Oscar Pistorius. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko
Oscar Pistorius. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

#OscarPistorius: State requests leave to appeal sentence

By African News Agency Time of article published Aug 26, 2016

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Johannesburg - All eyes will be on the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Friday, where the State will request leave to appeal against Oscar Pistorius's six-year sentence for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The State wants a harsher sentence imposed on the 29-year-old Paralympic athlete for the 2013 Valentine's Day murder of the law graduate and model in Pistorius' Pretoria home.

Pistorius has maintained that he fired four shots into the locked bathroom door in the mistaken belief that there was an intruder. Initially, Judge Thokozile Masipa found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide, but the state successfully appealed the conviction and the fallen athlete was instead found guilty of murder.

On 6 July, Masipa re-sentenced Pistorius, a double amputee, to six years in prison for murder. On Friday the State will ask for permission to appeal what it said was a “disturbingly inappropriate” sentence.

In court papers filed by the National Prosecuting Authority, the State said the sentence on a murder charge was “shocking”, “startling” and “disturbingly inappropriate” given the gravity of the crime and the interests of society.

“We respectfully submit that the sentence of six years' imprisonment does not adequately reflect the seriousness of the crime of murder and the natural indignation and outrage of the public,” the court papers read.

“... We respectfully submit that the sentence of six years' imprisonment, in all the circumstances, is disproportionate to the crime of murder committed in casu, 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.”

In the court papers the State said the grounds for the appeal were that the “court misdirected itself in finding that the aggravating factors in casu are outweighed by the mitigating factors” and presented mitigating and aggravating factors that the court identified.

The aggravating factors included that Pistorius used a lethal weapon; fired not one but four shots into the toilet door; fired the four shots knowing full well that there was someone behind the door; the toilet was a small cubicle and there was no room for escape; Pistorius was trained in the use and handling of firearms; and he never fired a warning shot. However, the defence will argue against the request to appeal the sentence.

The defence contends that the six year sentence was fair considering that Pistorius has served nearly a year in prison and about eight months under house arrest. The mitigating factors according to the court papers are that Pistorius approached the bathroom in the belief that an intruder had entered his house; was without his prosthesis and felt vulnerable; immediately took steps to save Steenkamp's life; was distraught and kept on asking God to save Steenkamp's life; at the commencement of the trial he accused apologised to the Steenkamp family; and was genuinely remorseful.

African News Agency

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