South Africa justice minister says seeking legal advice on Pistorius parole

(Reuters) – South Africa’s justice minister said on Tuesday he was seeking legal advice on whether its parole board was right to decide to free Oscar Pistorius on house arrest on Friday after serving a sixth of his five-year sentence for killing his girlfriend.

“Whether that decision of the parole board was regular and correct in law is what I am seeking advice about, and if it wasn’t, whether there is anything that empowers me in law to have the matter revisited,” Justice Minister Michael Masutha told Reuters.

Pistorius, 29, a former Paralympic gold medalist, is due after his planned release on Friday to spend the balance of his sentence at his uncle’s three-storey mansion in a leafy suburb of South Africa’s capital Pretoria.

Masutha said he decided to intervene following a petition from a women’s organization. “I have been approached by an NGO to review the decision of the parole board…” he said.

The Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa (PWMSA) petitioned the government to block Pistorius’s release, saying the 10-month length of his imprisonment was an “insult” to women.

Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide last year for shooting dead his girlfriend, law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp, 29, on Valentine’s Day 2013, through a locked toilet door.

He said the shooting in his upmarket Pretoria home was a tragic mistake as he thought Steenkamp was asleep in bed, not in the small toilet cubicle.

The release of Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated when he was a baby, is in line with South African sentencing guidelines that say non-dangerous prisoners should spend only one-sixth of a custodial sentence behind bars.

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