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Oscar Pistorius still in jail after parole decision delayed in South Africa

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Oscar Pistorius

SOUTH AFRICA — A South African parole review board met Monday to decide whether Oscar Pistorius should be let out of jail — and, when it was over, kept him where he was.

The former Olympian was sentenced in October to five years in prison for culpable homicide in the 2013 killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. But few expected him to be incarcerated that long.

In fact, the prison parole board, when it announced its decision in June, believed Pistorius would therefore be eligible to transfer on August 21, which happens to be 10 months to the day after he was sentenced. That’s in line with South Africa’s Correctional Services Act, which opens the door for convicted criminals who have served at least one-sixth of their sentence to serve the rest under house arrest.

But South Africa’s justice minister made a last-minute intervention, blocking Pistorius’ release and asking a parole review board to look at his case.

That’s what happened Monday when a parole review board met to discuss whether Pistorius should serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest.

They finished by opting to “set aside the decision” and referring Pistorius’ case “back to the (broader Correctional Supervision and Parole Board) for reconsideration,” the Correctional Services department said in a news release.

Why? As Pistorius’ lawyer Brian Webber explained, “The decision … is to refer the (matter) back to the parole board because they believe the decision (to possibly let him out of jail) was made prematurely.”

In addition to sending the case back, the parole review board also ordered that Pistorius “be subjected to psychotherapy in order to address criminogenic factors of the crime he committed,” according to the corrections department.

The man at the center of this debate, Pistorius, used to be one of South Africa’s most famous and beloved figures. Known as the “Blade Runner” and the “Fastest Man on No Legs,” he didn’t let the fact he had both legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday stop him from being a world-class athlete — excelling not only in Paralympic Games but also representing his country in the 2012 London Olympics.

But his life changed forever a few months later on February 14, 2013, when Steenkamp was found shot to death in his home. Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder the next day.

During his trial, he acknowledged firing the fatal shots through the bathroom door in his home but said he thought there was an intruder in the bathroom rather than his girlfriend, a model and law school graduate.

In September 2014, Judge Thokozile Masipa found him “negligent” in Steenkamp’s death. But the judge said he did not commit murder nor did he intend to kill her.

Prosecutors are appealing the verdict, believing the now 28-year-old Pistorius should be convicted of murder. The state’s appeal is set to take place in November.

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