South African prosecutors have announced their intention to appeal against Oscar Pistorius’ six-year jail sentence for murder calling it “shockingly” lenient and a decision that could bring the country’s justice system into “disrepute.” The announcement prolongs the three-and-a-half year legal saga of Pistorius, the once-acclaimed double-amputee runner who fatally shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in 2013.
Pistorius was sentenced to six years in prison by a judge on July 6, a sentence that is much shorter than the prescribed minimum of 15 years in jail for murder in South Africa. He could be released on parole after three years.
The National Prosecuting Authority said it would file its appeal papers yesterday - the day of the deadline to appeal.
“We respectfully submit that the sentence of six years imprisonment, in all the circumstances, is disproportionate to the crime of murder committed,” the prosecuting authority said in a statement announcing it would appeal.
The sentence was “shockingly too lenient, and has accordingly resulted in an injustice and has the potential to bring the administration of justice into disrepute,” the prosecuting authority said.
Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June, said in a statement that they “have always fully supported (chief prosecutor) Gerrie Nel and his team’s fight for justice for Reeva.” But Steenkamp’s parents had “no input in the decision of the state to appeal,” they said in a statement issued by their lawyer.
The 29-year-old Pistorius is currently serving his six-year sentence in a prison in the South African capital, Pretoria. Under South African law, he could be eligible for parole after serving half the sentence.
He also previously served one year in prison for manslaughter for shooting the 29-year-old Steenkamp, a model and reality TV star. That manslaughter conviction was upgraded to the more serious offense of murder after an earlier prosecution appeal, leading to a new sentencing.
Prosecutors had sought a 15-year sentence for Pistorius for the murder, but Judge Thokozile Masipa said there were compelling circumstances in Pistorius’ case to give him a lesser sentence. South African judges can deviate from minimum sentences if there are exceptional circumstances.
Pistorius’ defence lawyers and family said immediately after the sentencing that they accepted the judge’s decision. On Thursday, Pistorius family spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess said that they wouldn’t be commenting on the prosecution’s appeal.