Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius has launched an appeal against the increased sentence he got for murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius was jailed for six years in 2016 for shooting Steenkamp dead at their Pretoria home, but that was more than doubled to 15 years on appeal after judges ruled it ‘shockingly lenient’.
Now Pistorius is taking his case to South Africa’s highest court in the hopes of a reprieve, though legal analysts say this has a slim chance of success.
Oscar Pistorius has appealed against the increased 15-year sentence he was given for murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at their Pretoria home in 2013
The athlete was originally found guilty of culpable homicide in 2014 after a judge found he acted ‘negligently’ when he fired shots through a bathroom door which killed Steenkamp, but had done so ‘in the belief there was an intruder’.
In 2015 that conviction was upgraded to murder after an appeal by prosecutors, who argued that the person behind the door was irrelevant because Pistroius should have known he would kill whoever it was when he fired the gun.
Steenkamp was shot dead in the bathroom of the home she shared with Pistorius, who said he thought she was an intruder
But despite murder carrying a 15-year minimum sentence in South Africa, he was given just six years behind bars.
Pistorius opted to appeal that sentence, only to see it more than doubled to the legal minimum by the Court of Appeals.
Pistorius filed documents to the Constitutional Court on Monday challenging the appeals court’s ruling.
The judgement, he argued, disregarded material findings of the trial court, which showed ‘compelling circumstances justifying a departure from the prescribed minimum sentence’. Fifteen years is the minimum usually given for murder.
Pistorius said this was in breach of his constitutional right to a fair trial and sentencing.
When asked about the appeal, Steenkamp’s family spokeswoman Tania Koen said: ‘It’s his legal right to do so and we have to respect the legal process. It is what it is.’
Pistorius’ family spokesman was not available to comment.
Rights groups in a country beset by high levels of violent crime against women say Pistorius has received preferential treatment compared to non-whites and those without his wealth or celebrity status.
Although in jail, Pistorius remains in the news. He suffered a bruise in a fight with another inmate after spending too long on a phone call, a prison spokesman said.
Pistorius was originally sentenced to five years for culpable homicide, but that was increased to six years after the charge was changed to murder. An appeals court then upped the sentence again, to 15 years, after finding the previous one was ‘shockingly lenient’