South African laywers request murder charge for Pistorius

South African state prosecutors request Oscar Pistorius be sent back to jail again after two weeks under house arrest

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

South African prosecutors have filed papers at the Supreme Court of Appeal, pushing for a murder conviction against paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius.

South African state prosecutors argued in court on Tuesday that Oscar Pistorius should be convicted of a murder charge and sent back to jail, two weeks after he was released under house arrest.

State prosecutors will try to persuade judges at the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein that Pistorius has to be found guilty of murder and sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Last year the paralympic sprinter was found guilty of culpable murder, a charge equivalent to manslaughter, after he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

He was released on October 19 this year to spend the rest of his sentence at his uncle’s place in Pretoria.

The state prosecutors have called the court decision "shockingly light" and said "not enough emphasis was placed on the horrendous manner" of the killing.

The five judges of the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein will hear from both sides - the prosecution and defence - then are expected to announce a date to give their judgement.

Family spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess said that Pistorius, who has not been seen in public since his release, will not attend the hearing.

"The possibilities are to dismiss the appeal, uphold the appeal, or refer it back to the trial court - which I think is very unlikely - for resentencing or retrial," said criminal lawyer Martin Hood.

Pistorius could have just two days to prepare himself for returning to prison, if the judges accept the state lawyers’ appeal and find him guilty.

Pistorius was the first double-amputee athlete to race at Olympic level in 2012 but after shooting his girlfriend he lost his sports career, contracts and status as a global role model for disabled people.

Although his release on house arrest after spending time in prison is normal under South African rules, the court decision has been criticised by women’s rights groups and many activists in the country.

TRTWorld and agencies