An Appeal in Pistorius Case —but Not From Pistorius

Prosecutors say sentence was 'shockingly' lenient, want more jail time than 6 years
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 21, 2016 9:57 AM CDT
An Appeal in Pistorius Case —but Not From Pistorius
In this July 6, 2016, file photo Oscar Pistorius, center, leaves the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, after being sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.   (Masi Losi)

South African prosecutors announced their intention to appeal against Oscar Pistorius' six-year jail sentence for murder on Thursday, calling it "shockingly" lenient and a decision that could bring the country's justice system into "disrepute," the AP reports. The announcement prolongs the 3.5-year legal saga of Pistorius, the once-acclaimed double-amputee runner who fatally shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in 2013. The National Prosecuting Authority said it would file its appeal papers on Thursday, the day of the deadline. Pistorius, 29, was sentenced to six years in prison on July 6, a sentence much shorter than the prescribed minimum of 15 years for murder in South Africa; he could be released on parole after three years. "We respectfully submit that the sentence of six years imprisonment, in all the circumstances, is disproportionate to the crime of murder committed," the prosecuting authority said in a statement.

Steenkamp's parents, Barry and June, said in a statement Thursday that they "have always fully supported [chief prosecutor] Gerrie Nel and his team's fight for justice for Reeva" but that they had "no input in the decision of the state to appeal." Pistorius had previously served one year in prison for manslaughter for shooting the 29-year-old Steenkamp, a conviction that was upgraded to murder after an earlier prosecution appeal, leading to a new sentencing. Prosecutors had sought a 15-year sentence for Pistorius, but Judge Thokozile Masipa said there were compelling circumstances to give him a lesser sentence (South African judges can deviate from minimum sentences if there are exceptional circumstances). Now prosecutors must first ask Masipa for permission to appeal her decision. If permission is granted, the appeal could go to South Africa's Supreme Court, where prosecutors in Pistorius' case have previously been successful. (Read more Oscar Pistorius stories.)

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