State seeks longer term for Os­car

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEWS -

PROS­E­CU­TORS ar­gued yesterday that Os­car Pis­to­rius’s six-year jail sen­tence for mur­der must be in­creased, claim­ing he failed to show gen­uine re­morse af­ter killing his girl­friend.

The Par­a­lympic ath­lete shot dead Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valen­tine’s Day in 2013 when he fired four times through the door of his bed­room toi­let.

He pleaded not guilty at his trial in 2014 and has al­ways de­nied that he killed Steenkamp in a rage, say­ing he mis­took her for a bur­glar.

At a one-day hear­ing at the Supreme Court of Ap­peal in Bloem­fontein, pros­e­cu­tors fought for the right to ap­peal against what they de­scribed as a shock­ingly le­nient sen­tence.

Pis­to­rius, 30, was not present for the lat­est stage of his long le­gal case, but Steenkamp’s mother June was in the pub­lic gallery.

“One of the es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ents of a bal­anced sen­tence is that it must re­flect the se­ri­ous­ness of the of­fence,” An­drea John­son, of the Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Author­ity, told the court.

“Gen­uine re­morse is miss­ing -- namely a rea­son from the re­spon­dent for fir­ing the four fa­tal shots.

“One can­not say his re­gret ab­solves him from the crime.”

In 2015, Pis­to­rius was found guilty of mur­der, ir­re­spec­tive of who­ever was be­hind the door when he opened fire with a pis­tol he kept un­der his bed.

He was given less than half of the min­i­mum 15 years in jail for mur­der, in a rul­ing that the pros­e­cu­tion author­ity has fought to challenge.

Pis­to­rius was orig­i­nally con­victed of cul­pa­ble homi­cide, but the ap­peal court up­graded his con­vic­tion.

Pis­to­rius’s lawyer Barry Roux launched a strong de­fence of the judge who handed down the six-year sen­tence, say­ing she had taken into ac­count his claim that he had be­lieved he was shoot­ing an in­truder.

“She bal­anced what he did with the cir­cum­stances,” Roux said, adding that the judge had un­der­stood Pis­to­rius was “a bro­ken man” af­ter the killing and had re­peat­edly apol­o­gised to Steenkamp's fam­ily.

“It was a com­pre­hen­sive judg­ment. Leave to ap­peal should not be granted,” Roux said.

Mem­bers of the ANC women’s league, who have at­tended many of the court ses­sions, crit­i­cised the sen­tence for fail­ing to send a message against do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

“We are not sat­is­fied and we are not go­ing to keep quiet un­til jus­tice is served,” lo­cal ANCWL chair­woman Ma­paseka Nkoane told re­porters.

The court re­served judg­ment un­til an un­spec­i­fied later date.

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