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Oscar Pistorius Prosecutors Seek Longer Murder Sentence

Prosecutors believe Oscar Pistorius' six-year prison sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp is "shockingly" lenient and say he hasn't shown remorse.
Image: Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius looks on ahead of his sentencing hearing in Pretoria in 2014.
Oscar Pistorius pictured at his original 2014 sentencing.Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

Prosecutors asked a South African court on Friday to review the “shockingly” lenient six-year prison sentence imposed on Olympian Oscar Pistorius for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Lawyers told a hearing that the double-amputee sprinter had not shown "genuine remorse" for the Valentine’s Day 2013 shooting and said the original trial judge had exercised too much discretion.

Pistorius, 30, fired a gun multiple times through a closed bathroom door and said he thought Steenkamp was a dangerous intruder.

The so-called "Blade Runner" did not attend the hearing in the city of Bloemfontein. He is serving his sentence in a prison near the capital, Pretoria. Steenkamp's mother, June, looked on from the public benches.

Image: June Steenkamp watches as prosecutors seek a longer jail sentence athlete Oscar Pistorius, who killed her daughter Reeva.
June Steenkamp watches Friday's appeal.AP

It was the second challenge from prosecutors. In 2015, they successfully overturned Judge Thokozile Masipa’s verdict of culpable homicide — or manslaughter — and secured a murder conviction.

Masipa then sentenced Pistorius to six years in prison, a term just one year longer than her original sentence for manslaughter. There is no death penalty in South Africa.

The country’s National Prosecuting Authority quickly announced it would appeal, calling the term “disproportionate,” “shockingly too lenient” and “an injustice.”

Judges can deviate from prescribed minimum sentences if there are compelling circumstances. However, prosecutor Andrea Johnson told Friday's hearing at South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal that the discretion was exercised “inappropriately.”

She said Pistorius had not shown "genuine remorse" for shooting Steenkamp.

“Genuine contrition can only come from admission of the extent of one’s error,” she said, and “not simply feeling sorry for himself.”

Image: South Africa's Olympic sprint star Oscar Pistorius and his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius and Reeva SteenkampLUCKY NXUMALO / AFP - Getty Images, file

Johnson also said the athlete had not adequately explained why he fired the gun and “impose a death sentence on whoever was in that toilet.”

Pistorius’ lawyer, Barry Roux, said Judge Masipa had fully “understood” the mitigating circumstances, including the runner’s fragile psychological condition and his public fall from grace.

“He was already broken,” Roux said, yet the judge still imposed a prison sentence. “He was lambasted for things that were really not true.”

Pistorius was treated in hospital in 2016 for injuries to his wrists.

The five judges hearing Friday’s appeal reserved judgment for a later date.