SAfrica’s Blade Runner due for new murder sentencing

SAfrica’s Blade Runner due for new murder sentencing

Paralympic athlete Pistorius, convicted of the murder of his girlfriend, was released on parole last October

By Hassan Isilow

PRETORIA, South Africa (AA) - The sentencing hearing of former South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius, convicted of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, begins Monday in the Pretoria High Court.

The original trial judge, Thokozile Masipa, is hearing the pre-sentencing arguments from both Pistorius’s legal team and state lawyers. Arguments are expected to last for three days before a ruling is issued.

Pistotrius, 29, was initially sentenced to five years for manslaughter in 2014, but had his conviction overturned last December when state lawyers appealed after he was released on parole after serving only one year in prison.

The Supreme Court of Appeal found that he was guilty of murdering Steenkamp and ordered a fresh sentence.

The Paralympic athlete killed his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day 2013, when he fired a handgun four times through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home.

Under South African law, a murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence with a minimum of 15 years.

State lawyers are expected to ask the judge to give Pistorius a lengthy jail term. But his lawyers will argue that he has shown remorse for the crime and spent some time in jail. This could see some of his jail sentence term subtracted.

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 in their Pretoria home.

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.

A group of his supporters have gathered outside court to show solidarity with him.

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