Pistorius faces lengthy jail term for lover's murder

The original trial judge Thokozile Masipa is expected to pass a new sentence after hearing arguments from both prosecution and defence this week. The prosecution will be pushing for a tougher penalty.

Oscar Pistoriusfaces a minimum 15-year jail term for murder.   -  AP

South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius on Monday enters the final stretch of a protracted legal battle that could see him back in jail for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp three years ago.

The double-amputee killed Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, in the early hours of Valentine's Day in 2013, saying he mistook her for an intruder when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.

In March, Pistorius's lawyers failed in their legal bid to reverse a Supreme Court of Appeal judgment that upgraded his original conviction from culpable homicide -- the equivalent of manslaughter -- to murder.

The original trial judge Thokozile Masipa is expected to pass a new sentence after hearing arguments from both prosecution and defence this week. The prosecution will be pushing for a tougher penalty.

The 29-year-old "Blade Runner" faces a minimum 15-year jail term for murder, but his sentence could be reduced due to time already spent in prison and mitigating factors, including his disability.

Legal experts expect Pistorius to take the stand to express remorse.

"Contriteness is a very important sentencing factor. If someone apologises and shows remorse, that is a strong mitigation factor," said criminal law expert Martin Hood.

Britain's Sunday Telegraph reported that Steenkamp's father Barry could also take the witness stand to ask the court to impose a lengthy punishment. If he does, it will be the first time one of Steenkamp's parents has testified in the case.

Pistorius was released from jail last October to live under house arrest at his uncle's mansion in Pretoria after serving one year of his five-year sentence for culpable homicide.

If he is sentenced to more than five years this time around, he will have to serve at least two thirds of the term before he qualifies for parole.

Analysts estimate that he could be sentenced to between eight and 12 years, but the prosecution is pushing for at least 15.

"When it is not premeditated and when a person is a first offender, (murder) carries a minimum of 15 years... and we have the responsibility to ensure that the provisions of the law are applied," said the National Prosecution Authority's Luvuyo Mfaku.

The case at the High Court in Pretoria was scheduled to last until Friday, though the sentence could be handed down earlier.

A lawyer close to the case told AFP on condition of anonymity that it should take three days for both sides to present evidence and "the judge may come back to deliver sentence on Friday."

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.