Africa

Oscar Pistorius: Appeal over 'shockingly lenient' sentence

Oscar Pistorius, during his murder trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria (06 July 2016) Image copyright EPA
Image caption Pistorius was sentenced for murder earlier this month

South African prosecutors say they will appeal against Oscar Pistorius's six-year sentence for murder, calling it "shockingly too lenient".

The National Prosecuting Authority said the sentence was "disproportionate to the crime" and could bring the justice system "into disrepute".

The Olympic athlete was jailed earlier this month for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

He admits killing her but says he mistook her for an intruder.

The 29-year-old was initially given a five-year term for manslaughter, but was found guilty of murder on appeal last December.

A statement released by the National Prosecuting Authority said that an application for leave to appeal against Pistorius's sentence was submitted on Thursday.

"We hope that this appeal will also clarify further the principles of sentencing, particularly in crime categories for which there are prescribed minimum sentences ordained by legislation," it says.

Prosecutors point out that Pistorius' jail term was less than half the 15 years sought by them and that he has shown inadequate remorse for the murder.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp had been dating for three months before she was shot dead in 2013

In explaining her decision to give him six years, Judge Thokozile Masipa said mitigating circumstances, such as rehabilitation and remorse, had outweighed aggravating factors, such as his failure to fire a warning shot.

She said the sentence needed to be fair to both Pistorius and the family of the deceased.

A longer sentence would not serve justice, she said: "Public opinion may be loud and persistent but it can play no role in the decision of this court."

But the sentence caused outrage among some, who argued he had been given preferential treatment because of his status and wealth.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Reeva Steenkamp's parents are among those who want the former athlete to serve a longer sentence

Ms Steenkamp's family issued a statement on Thursday saying only that they "have always fully supported" the prosecuting team, and added that they were focusing their energy on launching a charitable foundation in their daughter's name.

Pistorius has already served one year in jail over his previous conviction. He is legally obliged to serve half of his new term before being eligible for parole.

The six-time Paralympic gold medallist made history by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics, in 2012 in London, running on prosthetic "blades".

He had his legs amputated below the knee as a baby.


Rise and fall of Oscar Pistorius

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Media captionPistorius becomes the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics
  • August 2012: Competes in London Olympics and Paralympics, where he won a gold medal
  • February 2013: Shoots dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
  • March 2014: Trial begins
  • September 2014: Judge finds Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide
  • October 2014: Begins five-year sentence
  • October 2015: Transferred to house arrest
  • December 2015: Appeal court changes verdict to murder
  • July 2016: Sentenced to six years in jail for murder

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