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Paralympic champ, Oscar Pistorius' jail term increased to six years

By primenewsghana.com
Oscar Pistorious

South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

The verdict comes after his initial five-year conviction for manslaughter was changed to murder last December on appeal.

He was taken immediately to jail. Both the prosecution and defence can appeal. 

Pistorius, 29, shot Reeva Steenkamp four times through a locked toilet door in February 2013.

He admitted shooting her, but said he mistook Ms Steenkamp for an intruder and acted out of fear.

In an hour-long session, Judge Thokozile Masipa said mitigating circumstances, such as rehabilitation and remorse, outweighed aggravating factors for deviating from the prescribed 15-year sentence for murder.

Dressed in a dark suit, Pistorius listened to the judge sat, mostly with his head down. 

He hugged his sister after the verdict was announced, and was taken to Khosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria.

Ms Steenkamp's parents, Barry and June, sat on the other side of the courtroom, which was packed with journalists and observers.

Pistorius has already served one year in jail over his previous conviction.

He is legally obliged to serve half of his new sentence in prison before being eligible for parole.

Ms Steenkamp's parents had previously expressed disappointment with the initial five-year sentence, an opinion shared by many South Africans. Women's rights groups considered it too lenient.

But in her decision, Judge Masipa said her opinion was that "a long term in prison will not serve justice".

"Public opinion may be loud and persistent but it can play no role in the decision of this court," she said, according to BBC.

Some rights groups have also said Pistorius, a wealthy white man and international celebrity, has received preferential treatment compared to others without his status or wealth.

Pistorious who had his legs amputated below the knee as a baby is a six-time Paralympic gold medallist who made history by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics, in 2012 in London, running on prosthetic "blades".

 


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