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South African prosecutors seek longer jail term for Pistorius

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Barry Roux, defence lawyer for Oscar Pistorius, speaks during the state appeal hearing at the high court in Johannesburg, on August 26, 2016 as the State challenges a ruling against convicted murderer Paralympian Oscar Pistorius who received six years for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.  Thokozile Masipa -- the same judge who imposed the sentence last month -- rejected the state's appeal seeking a longer jail sentence, saying that she was not persuaded there was a "reasonable prospect of success on appeal".  / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Themba Hadebe

Barry Roux, defence lawyer for Oscar Pistorius, speaks during the state appeal hearing at the high court in Johannesburg, on August 26, 2016 as the State challenges a ruling against convicted murderer Paralympian Oscar Pistorius who received six years for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.<br />Thokozile Masipa — the same judge who imposed the sentence last month — rejected the state’s appeal seeking a longer jail sentence, saying that she was not persuaded there was a “reasonable prospect of success on appeal”. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Themba Hadebe

South African prosecutors were in court on Friday pushing for a longer sentence for Oscar Pistorius for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, saying his six-year term was “disturbingly inappropriate”.

“The sentence of six years is shockingly lenient and disturbingly inappropriate,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued in court, as the state sought permission to appeal the sentence handed to the athlete last month.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013, saying he mistook her for a burglar when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.

At his sentencing in July, High Court judge Thokozile Masipa listed mitigating factors for giving him less than half the minimum 15-year term for murder, including the athlete’s claim he believed he was shooting an intruder.

“I’m of the view that a long term of imprisonment will not serve justice,” Masipa said.

But Nel argued that the six-year sentence was flawed and that it should be appealed.

Judge Masipa must now decide whether or not to allow the prosecution to appeal to the Supreme Court.

She was also the judge who had originally convicted Pistorius of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter.

But an appeals court upgraded his conviction to murder in December.

Pistorius’s defence said it was an “insult” to suggest that the court’s sentencing had been flawed and that it was time the case came to a close.

“Enough is enough. What does the state want?” defence lawyer Barry Roux said.

“This process has been exhausted beyond the point of exhaustion,” he added, accusing the prosecution of sending Pistorius “like a ping pong ball between courts”.

Pistorius, who pleaded not guilty at his trial in 2014, has always denied killing Steenkamp in a rage, saying he was trying to protect her.

The year before he killed Steenkamp, Pistorius — known as the Blade Runner — became the first double-amputee to race at Olympic level when he appeared at the London 2012 games.


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