NPA considering options after Oscar appeal bid rejected

2016-08-26 17:10
Oscar Pistorius kisses his sister Aimee after his sentence is read out in the High Court in Pretoria. (AFP)

Oscar Pistorius kisses his sister Aimee after his sentence is read out in the High Court in Pretoria. (AFP)

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Johannesburg – The National Prosecuting Authority is still to decide on its next move after its bid to appeal Oscar Pistorius' six-year jail sentence for murder was dismissed on Friday.

"We will study the ruling and then we will consider our options," NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said.

"I am not persuaded that there are reasonable prospects of success for an appeal," Judge Thokozile Masipa said in the High Court in Johannesburg.

She dismissed the State's application with costs.

After Masipa had left the court, prosecutor Gerrie Nel turned to a colleague behind him, muttered something and shook his head. He left the court quickly, looking disappointed.

Neither he nor Pistorius' lawyer Barry Roux would comment.

Nel began his arguments by stating that the request for leave to appeal Masipa's sentence should not be seen as an insult to her.  

Sentence 'disturbingly inappropriate'

It was the second time the State appealed against her rulings in Pistorius' case. The first was its appeal against her finding him guilty of culpable homicide. On December 3 2015, the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned Masipa's verdict and replaced it with one of murder. It ordered Masipa to resentence Pistorius.

Nel said the sentence was "shocking", "startling" and "disturbingly inappropriate". It did not reflect the seriousness of the crime and the public's "natural indignation and outrage".

While the former Paralympian had expressed "some regret", he had still not offered a credible explanation for firing the four shots that killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

He said Pistorius on his stumps, holding a gun, would have been a "formidable" person, unlike the vulnerable man his lawyer had tried to portray him as during sentencing in the High Court in Pretoria in June.

At the time, Barry Roux made Pistorius walk across the courtroom on his stumps. He cried, appeared unsteady and had to use the furniture to keep his balance.

"A physical demonstration at night would have been different. In the dark, walking down the passage with a gun, a lethal firearm loaded with ammunition that would devastate. Such a person is formidable," said Nel.

He said Masipa should have taken as her starting point the prescribed 15-year minimum sentence for murder.

State wants to 'punish him and punish him'

Roux said the State's repeated appeals were prolonging Pistorius' uncertainty and bouncing him between courts "like a ping-pong ball".

"What does the State want? 10 years? What is the practical effect of that?"

Roux said the State was showing a lot of prejudice toward Pistorius. Suggesting he merely showed "some regret" was "so wrong". "The man was crying; he was praying."

"Would the sentence always be perfect? No My Lady."

He said Pistorius had in effect been sentenced to eight years in jail and rejected the State's claim that it was "shockingly inappropriate".  He was a vulnerable man who, one night, made the "mistake of his life".

The State was taking the approach that because Pistorius never explained why he fired the shots, it wanted to "punish him and punish him and punish him".

In the early hours of February 14 2013, Pistorius shot Steenkamp four times through the locked door of the toilet in his Silver Woods Country Estate home. He claimed he thought there was an intruder behind the door about to emerge and harm him, and that Steenkamp was still in bed.

Read more on:    npa  |  oscar pistorius  |  crime  |  oscar pistoirus trial

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