Oscar Pistorius Release From Prison Put On Hold

Oscar Pistorius Release From Prison Put On Hold

Oscar Pistorius was scheduled for release Friday from prison for good behavior but that has been put on hold by the South African government on grounds it was approved prematurely, The Guardian reports.

The 28-year-old Paralympic athlete was convicted of culpable homicide — the South African equivalent of manslaughter — for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The double-amputee runner, nicknamed Blade Runner for his prosthetics, is in the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in central Pretoria, SkyNews, reports.

Pistorius was charged with shooting Steenkamp four times through a locked bathroom door. He claims he mistook her for a burglar. Steenkamp would have been 32 today.

He has been separated from the general prison population for his own safety,  according to TheTelegraph. Concern about his mental health motivated prison authorities to keep him under suicide watch.

Pistorius was approved by a parole board in June to be moved to house arrest Friday after serving 10 months behind bars. But Justice Minister Michael Masutha sent the case back to the parole review board, the Guardian reports.

Pistorius should have served 10 months — one-sixth — of his five-year sentence before being considered for release, said Justice Department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga. Instead he was approved for parole in June, eight months into his sentence. A new decision is expected before Friday’s planned release date, TheGuardian reports.

“That is a huge turnaround,” SkyNews reported. “This decision was taken back in June by an independent body of people including prison officials as well as civilians who all met and considered the requirements for his release.”

Pistorius’ parole is expected to include community service and rehabilitation, according to TheTelegraph. He’ll be banned from using alcohol or handling guns, and subject to spontaneous blood tests under the terms of his release.

It’s unlikely Pistorius will be allowed to leave South Africa. He has said he wants to work with children, possibly at his uncle’s school in Mozambique.

Pistorius still faces the possibility of a long prison term. In November, prosecutors will attempt to argue in the Supreme Court of Appeal that he should have been found guilty of murder, a conviction that carries at least 15 years in prison.

They hope to get the initial verdict overturned on grounds the judge erred in acquitting Pistorius of the more serious charge of murder. They’ll argue Pistorius should have known that firing at Steenkamp four times through a locked door would have resulted in her death, TheTelegraph reports.

The Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa said the decision to free Pistorius was “outrageous” and “an insult” to victims of abuse, SkyNews reported.

The Women’s League of the governing ANC welcomed the ruling, saying  “Judge (Thokozile) Masipa handed down an erroneous judgment and an extremely lenient sentence to Pistorius … setting a bad precedent in cases involving gender-based violence, especially in instances where women die at the hands of their partners. It is our wish that Pistorius remains in custody,” TheGuardian reported.

Pistorius’ career as a Paralympic sprinter is all but over, according to John Carlin, author of “Chase Your Shadows,” a book about the Pistorius trial.

He’ll be able to compete nationally — the South African Olympic Committee said there’s no ban on athletes with a criminal record. But the International Paralympic Committee ruled he can’t return to the track until 2019, TheGuardian reports. He won’t be able to compete at the Rio Games in 2016 and will be 33 by 2020, when the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are held.

“He might run again but he will never find within himself either the personal drive or the physical condition required to make it anywhere near the peak he achieved in London in 2012,” Carlin said. “Besides, if he were to try competing in serious race meetings, crowds would boo him, events would be boycotted that he participated in.”