4 November 2017

South Africa: Pistorius Prosecution Argues for Longer Prison Term

Photo: allafrica.com
Left: Oscar Pistorius. Right: Supreme Court of Appeal.

South African prosecutors on Friday argued that disgraced Paralympian Oscar Pistorius should serve nine additional years in prison after being convicted of murdering his girlfriend. The move is yet another twist in the now four-year-long saga that followed the 2013 shooting death of model Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius was re-sentenced last year after prosecutors successfully argued that his conviction should be upgraded from culpable homicide to murder. After the new conviction, a judge sentenced him to six years — a far cry from the 15-year minimum recommended under South African law.

On Friday, state prosecutor Andrea Johnson argued to the Supreme Court of Appeal that the sentence should be increased to 15 years. She argued, as the prosecution has previously, that Pistorius has shown little remorse.

"Yes, the respondent apologized," she told the five-judge panel. "What did he apologize for? 'I'm sorry.' Sorry for what?"

Pistorius maintained he mistook his girlfriend of three months for an intruder and did not mean to kill her when he shot four times at a locked bathroom door, killing her.

Pistorius' lawyer, Barry Roux, has long argued that the athlete — who made history in 2012 by being the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics — is severely traumatized by the ordeal and needs hospitalization, not imprisonment.

He is, Roux argued Friday, plagued by post-traumatic stress disorder and is a "broken man."

Pistorius was not present at Friday's proceedings in the judicial capital of Bloemfontein.

The Paralympian's case has been a slow-motion education in the South African legal system. The original trial, which stretched over six months, was the first South African trial to be broadcast live. It even had its own channel.

Judge Thokozile Masipa handed down a verdict of culpable homicide in September 2014, and the following month sentenced Pistorius to five years. South Africa does not hold jury trials.

The prosecution successfully appealed to have his conviction upgraded, in late 2015. Masipa added one year to his sentence in mid-2016, arguing, at the time, that no sentence she could give would satisfy South Africa's highly polarized public.

The appeal judges will rule at a later date.

South Africa

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