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Decision to release Oscar Pistorius from jail early is suspended

By Linda Odette

South Africa's justice ministry has suspended the decision to release Oscar Pistorius from prison tomorrow.

It said the move to release the athlete after serving 10 months of his five-year sentence had been "taken prematurely" and had "no legal basis".

The decision has now been sent back to the parole board for review.

Pistorius was convicted of manslaughter last year for shooting dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who he says he mistook for an intruder. It is not clear whether the decision on his early release could be reinstated before tomorrow.

Pistorius was jailed for five years for the culpable homicide of Ms Steenkamp, a charge equivalent to manslaughter.

Under South African law, Pistorius is eligible for release under "correctional supervision", having served a sixth of his sentence.

The justice minister's comments follow a petition from the Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa, which has described the athlete's early release as "outrageous" and "an insult" to victims of abuse.

Ms Steenkamp's parents have said the time Pistorius has served is "not enough for taking a life".

This week prosecutors in South Africa filed papers calling for the athlete's conviction to be reviewed and converted to murder, which carries a minimum sentence of 15 years. His defence team now has a month to file its response.

After his release from prison, Pistorius would serve the rest of his term under house arrest.

During sentencing, Judge Thokozile Masipa said the State had failed to prove Pistorius intended to kill when he fired.

The double amputee shot and killed Ms Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door at his Pretoria home, believing she was an intruder, he told his trial.

Pistorius' girlfriend Ms Steenkamp was a lawyer, model and TV star.

Pistorius was born without the fibulas in both of his legs and had surgery to amputate both below the knee while still a baby.

He went on to become one of South Africa's best-known sports stars and was the first amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics.

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