South Africa judge orders government to rule on parole for death squad leader of apartheid era

A South African judge has ordered the justice ministry to decide within 30 days whether to grant parole to the former head of a covert police unit that tortured and killed dozens of people during white rule.

Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled Wednesday in the case of Eugene de Kock, who confessed to murder and other crimes and was sentenced to life in prison. He has been in jail since 1994, when apartheid ended.

De Kock says he acted on instructions from leaders who were never punished. His lawyer, Julian Knight, says the government has violated de Kock's rights by delaying a decision on his parole request.

Masipa is also overseeing the murder trial of athlete Oscar Pistorius, who is being assessed at a psychiatric hospital. The trial resumes June 30.