In Brief

Oscar Pistorius out of legal options as request to appeal rejected

Former star athlete loses bid to cut 13-year jail term for murder of Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius has come to the “end of the road” in his lengthy legal battle over his conviction for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

The former Paralympian had asked South Africa’s highest court to review his 13-year jail term, after it was increased in November from a total of six years, reports South Africa’s News 24.

But the Constitutional Court’s ruling, released yesterday, was that the leave to appeal “should be dismissed as it does not engage this court’s jurisdiction”.

A spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said: “This is the end of the road. There are no other legal options available.”

Pistorius, 31, has always maintained that he did not mean to kill girlfriend Steenkamp, who was shot dead when he fired four times through the locked door of his bedroom toilet in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013. He claims to have believed she was an intruder.

It was a dramatic fall from grace for the athlete, who in 2012 became the first double-amputee to race at the Olympics.

Responding to the latest ruling, Gerrie Nel‚ the prosecutor in the original case, said: “Justice has been done. I’m just glad that this is over.”

A spokeswoman for Steenkamp’s family said they had “always had faith in the justice system”.

Prison sentence doubled

In November, Pistorius’s murder sentence was extended to 13 years and five months by South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal after the state argued that his original six-year term was “shockingly lenient”.

Justice Legoabe Willie Seriti said Pistorius should be sentenced to the country's minimum 15-year sentence for murder, but subtracted the time that the former Paralympian sprinter had already served in prison and at home under house arrest.

At the time, a spokesperson for Steenkamp's family said the ruling had “verified there is justice”.

Pistorius - who was not in court for the ruling - was initially given a five-year term for manslaughter in 2014, but was found guilty of murder on appeal a year later and sentenced to six years.

Pistorius claims that on the morning of shooting, he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder hiding in his bathroom at his home in Pretoria. The double-amputee, who was not wearing his prosthetic legs at the time of the killing, shot Steenkamp four times through the cubicle door.

Prosecutors argued that the athlete’s disability had been “overemphasised” and that his former six-year sentence was far too lenient.

“Murder is murder,” chief prosecutor Andrea Johnson told a five-judge panel.


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