Pistorius denied appeal against murder conviction


South Africa’s highest court says Pistorius cannot appeal against conviction over killing of Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

South Africa’s constitutional court has rejected a last-ditch attempt by Oscar Pistorius to appeal against his conviction for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

“We can confirm that Oscar Pistorius’s leave to appeal has been denied … The court dismissed the application for leave to appeal because there are are no prospects of success,” Luvuyo Mfaku, spokesperson of the National Prosecuting Authority, told reporters.

Pistorius, a Paralympic champion, shot dead Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law graduate in 2013. He now faces a possible minimum 15-year jail sentence.

Pistorius ran on prosthetic extensions attached to his legs in the 2012 London Olympics, becoming one of the best known athletes in the world. He was born with a birth defect which led to the amputation of his legs beneath the knees when he was 11 months old.

The trial of the athlete known as the Blade Runner was closely followed around the world.

Pistorious killed Steenkamp when he fired a handgun through the closed door of a toilet in his home in Pretoria.

In December last year the supreme court of appeal found him guilty of murder, reversing a 2014 ruling by the high court in Pretoria, which had only found him guilty of culpable homicide, or manslaughter.

Steenkamp’s relatives welcomed that verdict. “Now we’ve seen that the justice system works. It’s about respect for my daughter, how wonderful she was, how clever she was, all that was taken away from her,” Steenkamp’s mother, June, said.

In January the former sprinter sought leave to appeal to the constitutional court to overturn the murder conviction.

Pistorius’s legal team argued the supreme court of appeal ignored his vulnerability as a person with a disability. It believes the court wrongly rejected a lower court’s judgment that Pistorius acted out of fear when he opened fire at what he thought, by his account, was an intruder in his home.

The appeals court said that regardless of who Pistorius said he thought was behind the door, he should have known someone could be killed if he fired.

Prosecutors had told judges Pistorius’s appeal to South Africa’s highest court against the murder conviction was “contrived” and without merit.

Andrew Fawcett, a defence lawyer, confirmed the court’s decision and said: “We’ll proceed to the sentencing.”

Pistorius, 29, was granted bail under house arrest in December following the supreme court verdict. He is currently fitted with an electronic tag and lives at his uncle’s mansion in Pretoria.

He is next due in court on 18 April for fresh sentencing on the murder conviction. The athlete was originally sentenced to five years in prison for the culpable homicide conviction, but was released one year later under house arrest.

Anneliese Burgess, the Pistorius family spokeswoman, said she would issue a statement after consulting with the family.

The Guardian

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