UPDATES WITH QUOTES FROM STATE, DEFENSE
By Hassan Isilow
PRETORIA, South Africa (AA) – A high court in the South African capital Pretoria Wednesday postponed the sentencing of former Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend to July 6.
Earlier, state prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Judge Thokozile Masipa to impose a minimum of 15 years jail sentence on Pistorius for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.
“My lady, we urge for a minimum of 15 years, but Reeva Steenkamp’s life was not a minimum,” Nel said in his closing arguments after the defense had asked for a lenient sentence.
Under the South African law, a murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence with a minimum of 15 years.
Pistorius, 29, was initially sentenced to five years for manslaughter in 2014, but had his conviction overturned last December when state lawyers appealed the matter after he was released on parole having served one year in prison.
The Supreme Court of Appeals later found he was guilty of murdering Steenkamp and ordered a fresh sentence.
His sentence hearing began Monday and now the ruling will be delivered on July 6.
Judge Masipa also lifted a ban on the publication of Steenkamp’s post-mortem photographs after the state lodged an application.
Earlier, Pistorius’s lawyer advocate Barry Roux, made him remove his prosthetic legs in court and show how vulnerable he was on the day he shot and killed his girlfriend.
“It’s 3 o’clock in the morning. It’s dark; he is on his stumps, not his legs. He is not running around the track. His balance was seriously compromised,” Roux said referring to the night Pistorius killed Steenkamp.
He said Pistorius was anxious and freighted when he thought an intruder had entered his home and because he was on his stumps he could not run away due to his disability.
The Paralympic athlete killed his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day of 2013, when he fired a gun four times through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home.
The double amputee, known as the “Blade Runner” for his athletic achievements, maintains that he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder when he opened fire.
Pistorius won a gold medal at the Athens Paralympic Games at the age of 17, turning him into a national hero. In 2012, he became the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympics.