Panel reviews Pistorius' parole

  • 18/09/2015
Oscar Pistorius (AAP)
Oscar Pistorius (AAP)

A South Africa parole board is meeting to determine if Paralympian Oscar Pistorius should leave jail, weeks after the justice minister blocked his release.

Pistorius was due to leave prison in August to serve out the remainder of his five-year sentence under house arrest for shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

But he was kept behind bars after Justice Minister Michael Masutha made a last-minute intervention blocking his release, in the latest twist to the case.

Last year, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide for shooting his model girlfriend Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013.

The star athlete known as the Blade Runner argued that he shot the law graduate after mistaking her for an intruder; prosecutors said he did so deliberately.

The 28-year-old was expected to be freed in August and placed under house arrest after serving 10 months of his sentence.

But in a surprise move, Masutha said the parole board made a mistake when they approved parole before Pistorius had served a sixth of his five-year sentence, as required by law.

Now a parole review board, a panel of legal experts chaired by a judge, will meet on Friday (local time) in the eastern port city of Durban to determine if the earlier decision to release Pistorius was legal.

Criminal advocate Julian Knight believes Pistorius could be freed on Friday if the parole board decides he has met its conditions for release.

"It is difficult to predict time frames, but if it is quite possible that he could be released if the parole review board do one of two things," Knight said.

"They could either uphold the original decision of the parole board or it could substitute it with its own decision. In that event he will be released on parole."

If the panel decides Pistorius should be released from prison, the athlete might be able to leave jail immediately, his lawyer Brian Webber said to AFP.

"That could be the case," said Webber, adding that he can't be sure. "I'm not a bookkeeper."

Alternatively, the panel could rule that Pistorius must remain in prison.

The parole review comes just months before Pistorius is set to fight the state's appeal to have him found guilty of murder instead of the less serious charge of culpable homicide, or manslaughter.

In November, the Supreme Court of Appeal will hear his case in Bloemfontein and determine if Judge Thokozile Masipa erred when she ruled that Pistorius did not intentionally kill model and law graduate Steenkamp.

Should Pistorius be found guilty of murder, he would serve a minimum of 15 years in prison.