Pistorius guilty of murder: Oscar Pistorius Guilty Of Murder
Published: December 3, 2015
Pistorius guilty of murder: Oscar Pistorius Guilty Of Murder, South Africa’s top appeals court ruled on Thursday that Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic star known as the Blade Runner, was guilty of murder in the 2013 killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, overturning a lower court’s conviction on the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Mr. Pistorius has already served about a year in prison and is now under house arrest for the previous conviction; a murder conviction carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The appeals court sided with state prosecutors on central points, saying that the manslaughter conviction, technically called culpable homicide, had been based on a misinterpretation of laws and an erroneous dismissal of circumstantial evidence.
The court said that Mr. Pistorius, who has said repeatedly that he accidentally killed his girlfriend when he believed his home had been broken into, should have foreseen that his actions would cause the death of a person.
He was not present when five judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein delivered their verdict. Ms. Steenkamp’s relatives, who were in court, embraced upon hearing the ruling.
“As a result of the error of laws referred to and on a proper appraisal of the facts, he ought to have been convicted not of culpable homicide on that count but of murder,” Judge Eric Leach said.
The appeals court ordered the lower court to hand a new sentence to Mr. Pistorius, who became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games, in London in 2012.
The court’s ruling revives a long-running legal battle that transfixed South Africa last year with its touchstone themes of celebrity, violence against women, crime and home intrusions. In a unanimous ruling, the appeals court described the case as “a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.”
Mr. Pistorius’s family said it had “taken note” of the ruling by the appeals court, the second-highest court in the country, but had not decided on its next steps.
“The legal team will study the finding, and we will be guided by them in terms of options going forward,” the family said in a statement.
Legal experts said Mr. Pistorius could try to take his case to the Constitutional Court, but it was unclear whether that court would regard it as a matter under its jurisdiction.
Mr. Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated when he was 11 months old and whose use of curved prosthetics earned him the nickname Blade Runner, said he shot Ms. Steenkamp through the locked door of his bathroom at home in February 2013 in the belief that she was an intruder.
In her verdict last year, Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa of the High Court sided with the defendant, saying his account “could reasonably be true.” She acquitted him of the more serious charge of murder, saying that prosecutors had failed to bring “strong circumstantial evidence” and to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Pistorius had shown intent to kill.
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