High profile murder case: Oscar Pistorius shielded through the throng and media at the court house in Pretoria for the verdict in June 2016
A South African appeal court has more than doubled the former Paralympian Oscar Pistorius’s prison sentence for murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
The supreme court of appeal (SCA) increased Pistorius’s sentence from six years in prison to 13 years and five months.
Pictures of Reeva Steenkamp’s horrific wounds shown in court: The South African model was murdered by ‘blade runner’ Oscar Pistorius
Pistorius killed Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, by firing four bullets from a handgun through a closed toilet door in his luxury home in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day 2013. He claimed he had mistaken her for a burglar.
Judge Thokozile Masipa in the high court in Pretoria, sentenced Pistorius to a much lower term than many had expected,
After Pistorius was convicted of murder, public prosecutors had demanded the mandatory minimum for murder of 15 years.
Model Reeva Steenkamp andstar athlete Oscar Pistorius, were an A-list couple in South Africa
Steenkamp’s family welcomed the longer sentence and said it showed that justice could prevail in South Africa: “This is an emotional thing for them. They just feel that their trust in the justice system has been confirmed this morning,” Tania Koen, a spokeswoman for the Steenkamp family, said on Friday.
The panel of judges said Pistorius “displays a lack of remorse, and does not appreciate the gravity of his actions”.
There is no death penalty in South Africa.
For the first trial, high court judge Thokozile Masipa sentenced Pistorius to five years for culpable homicide in 2014. The sentence was much lower than many had expected and was widely criticised. He served only 10 months of the five-year sentence in prison before being released and put under house arrest.
The state appealed against the culpable homicide conviction, and it was later replaced with murder by the SCA in 2016. Masipa who rebuffed calls to recuse herself, again handed down a six-year jail term in July 2016.
The sentence was described as “shockingly lenient” by state prosecutors.
The court was shown the horrific injuries the model suffered as Pistorius battered her and shot her multiple times, at his home
Victim: Reeva Steenkamp was shot three times through a bathroom door in Pistorius’ house on Valentines Day 2013
At Friday’s ruling, the court handed down the minimum 15-year sentence prescribed for murder in South Africa, then subtracted the years Pistorius had already served in jail.
Critics said Pistorius had received preferential treatment as a wealthy, white celebrity.
Pistorius, who turned 31 on Wednesday, has always maintained he fired in the mistaken belief that an intruder was hiding behind the door.
His lawyers have just one avenue open to them if they want to challenge the new sentence handed down by the supreme court, and that is to appeal to the constitutional court, the highest court in South Africa. Pistorius failed with an appeal to the constitutional court last year to challenge his murder conviction.
In an announcement that took a matter of minutes, the supreme court justice Willie Seriti said a panel of judges had unanimously upheld an appeal by prosecutors against Pistorius’s original six-year sentence.
Oscar Pistorius breaks down in court, during the trial. The SCA described him as self absorbed and failing to grasp the enormity of his crimes
Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius, aka ‘Blade Runner’, represented his country in the sprints despite of his handicap
Under that initial sentence, pistorius been released on parole in mid-2019. Now, the earliest he will be eligible for parole is 2023.
Pistorius should have been sentenced to the prescribed minimum of 15 years for murder, Seriti said, as he delivered the verdict of a panel of five judges at the SCA in the central city of Bloemfontein.
Friday’s decision also has possible consequences for where he is held for the remainder of his sentence. The inmate was moved from the high-security Kgosi Mampuru II prison in central Pretoria to Atteridgeville, which houses prisoners sentenced to six years or less. Pistorius might now be moved back to a higher-security facility.