Oscar Pistorius Lenient Sentence Shocks Prosecutors
South Africa’s state prosecutors on Friday, described the six-year sentence for murder given to Paralympic gold medalist, Oscar Pistorius as `shockingly lenient’.
The prosecutors are asking the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) for the right to launch an appeal against the judgment.
Pistorius was imprisoned in July last year after being found guilty on appeal of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day in 2013. The case has attracted worldwide interest.
He was not in court for Friday’s hearing.
Women’s rights groups in the 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 international celebrity status.
The athlete was originally convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in jail.
That conviction was increased to murder by the SCA in December 2015, and his sentence increased to six years by a trial judge, Thokozile Masipa.
The state prosecutors, led by advocate Andrea Johnson, said that the sentence by Masipa was too lenient as the jail term was less than half the minimum 15-year sentence prescribed for murder in South Africa.
Johnson said that the high court did not list substantial and compelling factors for deviating from the 15-year sentence and that Pistorius had not shown remorse for the murder.
“There is no true, gut-wrenching remorse,” Johnson said.
“It is shockingly lenient and has accordingly resulted in injustice,” she said.
However, counsel to Pistorius, known as the “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fiber prosthetics, said that he did not deliberately kill model and law graduate Steenkamp.
Barry Roux, the lead defense lawyer for Pistorius, said that the athlete was suffering from severe and worsening post-traumatic stress disorder over the case.
Roux said that Masipa had addressed the misperception that Pistorius deliberately killed Steenkamp.
“Leave to appeal should really not be granted,” he said.
The court did not set a date for when it will rule on whether the appeal can be heard or not.