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Prosecutors bid to increase 'shockingly lenient' Oscar Pistorius jail term

Published 21/07/2016

Oscar Pistorius was handed a six-year jail term earlier this month for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend
Oscar Pistorius was handed a six-year jail term earlier this month for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend

South African prosecutors are to appeal against the six-year prison term handed to Oscar Pistorius for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, describing the sentence as "shockingly" lenient.

The National Prosecuting Authority said it will file appeal papers on Thursday, following the sentencing of Pistorius on July 6.

Prosecutors had sought 15 years in prison for the double-amputee Olympic athlete, the prescribed minimum sentence for murder in South Africa, but a judge said there were compelling circumstances in Pistorius's case to give him a lesser term.

The prosecution said the six-year sentence was "shockingly too lenient" for the crime of murder and was an "injustice".

Pistorius was convicted of murder after an appeal by prosecutors, having initially been acquitted of the charge. He shot Ms Steenkamp at his home in 2013.

Pistorius was previously found guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter and served one year in prison.

The latest decision to appeal by prosecutors prolongs the three-and-a-half-year legal case against the Paralympian.

He shot Ms Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013.

He claimed he killed her by mistake, thinking she was an intruder hiding in the bathroom. Prosecutors said he shot her intentionally after an argument.

In a statement, the prosecuting authority said: "We respectfully submit that the sentence of six years imprisonment, in all the circumstances, is disproportionate to the crime of murder committed.

"That is to say, shockingly too lenient, and has accordingly resulted in an injustice and has the potential to bring the administration of justice into disrepute."

Judge Thokozile Masipa decided on the six-year jail sentence for the 29-year-old. She was also the judge who oversaw Pistorius's 2014 trial and acquitted him of murder.

In appealing against the six-year sentence, prosecutors first have to get permission from Judge Masipa to take another appeal to the Supreme Court. No date was given for the first hearing in the appeal.

Pistorius is currently serving his sentence in a prison in the South African capital Pretoria. Under South African law, he could be eligible for parole after serving half his sentence, or three years.

AP

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