With manslaughter conviction upgraded to murder, Oscar Pistorius faces 15 years in jail
Bloemfontein (South Africa): Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of murder yesterday after South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal threw out a manslaughter conviction for killing his girlfriend, and he now faces a 15-year prison term.
The judge described the Paralympian's testimony over the 2013 shooting of Reeva Steenkamp as "untruthful" and delivered a damning indictment of the original verdict.
The double-amputee athlete known as the Blade Runner was released on parole in October after serving one year of his five-year prison sentence for the lesser charge of culpable homicide.
He killed Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, in the early hours of Valentine's Day two years ago, saying he mistook her for an intruder when he shot four times through the locked door of his bedroom toilet.
'Guilty of murder'
"Guilty of murder, with the accused having criminal intent," judge Eric Leach told the court in South Africa's judicial capital Bloemfontein in a dramatic legal reversal. "The matter is referred back to the trial court to consider an appropriate sentence."
The Paralympic gold medallist, who was not present in court, now faces a minimum 15-year sentence for murder although he could be released earlier on parole. "It is inconceivable that a rational person thought he was entitled to fire at this person with a heavy-duty firearm," said Leach, who described Pistorius' testimony as "vacillating and untruthful". "He ought to have been convicted not of culpable homicide... but of culpable murder," the judge added.
The National Prosecuting Authority confirmed that Pistorius, 29, will remain on parole under house arrest at his uncle's mansion in the capital Pretoria until he is re-sentenced. "I'm satisfied with everything," Reeva's father Barry Steenkamp told reporters shortly after the unanimous ruling by five appeal court judges. Her mother June sat quietly in court with a sombre expression as the ruling was announced, and made no immediate comment afterwards.
Barry Steenkamp, Reeva's father, expressed relief at the case's conclusion. He told South Africa's News24: "If you took note of what I've said right from the beginning, it's not over yet, it's not over yet... it's over now. For us as a family, we can get on with our lives now and I hope his family can get on with their lives now."