South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday increased Oscar Pistorius’ murder sentence to 13 years and five months after the state argued that his original sentence of six years was “shockingly lenient”.
Pistorius was imprisoned in July last year after being found guilty on appeal of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013 in a case that attracted worldwide interest.
Steenkamp’s family welcomed the increased sentence saying it showed that justice could prevail in South Africa.
“This is an emotional thing for them. They just feel that their trust in the justice system has been confirmed this morning,” Tania Koen, a spokeswoman for the Steenkamp family, told Reuters.
The athlete was not in court for Friday’s ruling where the court handed down the minimum 15-year sentence prescribed for murder in South Africa, and subtracted the years Pistorius had already served in jail.
“The sentence imposed... in respect of murder is set aside and substituted with the following: the respondent is sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 13 years and five months,” the judge said, reading out the court’s decision.
The athlete was originally convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in jail. That conviction was increased to murder by the SCA in December 2015 and his sentence increased to six years by trial Judge Thokozile Masipa.
When seeking an appeal earlier this month state prosecutors argued that the six-year sentence handed to Paralympic gold medallist was “shockingly lenient”.
State prosecutors, led by advocate Andrea Johnson, said the sentence by Masipa was too lenient as the jail term was less than half the minimum 15-year sentence prescribed for murder in South Africa.
Johnson said the High Court did not list the substantial and compelling factors for deviating from the 15-year sentence and that Pistorius had not shown remorse for the murder.
“There is no true, gut-wrenching remorse,” Johnson said.
“It is shockingly lenient and has accordingly resulted in an injustice,” she said, referring to the sentence.
Lawyers for the gold medallist, known as the “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fibre prosthetics, say he did not deliberately kill model and law graduate Steenkamp.
Barry Roux, lead defence lawyer for Pistorius, said the athlete was suffering from severe and worsening post-traumatic stress disorder over the case.
Roux said Masipa had addressed the misperception that Pistorius deliberately killed Steenkamp.
“Leave to appeal should really not be granted,” he said.
Women’s rights groups in a country beset by high levels of violent crime against women also argued that Pistorius had received preferential treatment compared to non-whites and those without his wealth or international celebrity status.