Law correctly applied in Oscar case: Roux

By admin
09 December 2014

The law was correctly applied in convicting and sentencing paralympian Oscar Pistorius, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.

"The problem is that the State does not like nor appreciate your factual findings and are saying they are incorrectly applied," Barry Roux, SC, for Pistorius, told Judge Thokozile Masipa, who presided over Pistorius's trial. "You absolutely correctly said this is the law," he told her. Roux said the State was not allowed to appeal based on factual findings the court made, but only on a point of law.

'It is incorrect to say it's a light sentence, it's not'

On October 21, Masipa sentenced Pistorius to five years in jail for the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

He shot her dead through the locked door of the toilet in his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year, apparently thinking she was an intruder.

The State filed papers last month calling for a heavier conviction and harsher sentence to be imposed on the athlete. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel on Tuesday argued that the sentence imposed on Pistorius was "shockingly inappropriate".

"We cannot appeal on a question of fact only on a question of law," Nel said.

"We think we have a valid argument."

Nel said the court showed too much mercy for Pistorius, who could have foreseen that he could unlawfully kill whoever was behind the door.

Roux said the argument that Pistorius's sentence was light because he would only serve one sixth (10 months) of his sentence, was invalid because he would have to apply to be released into correctional supervision.

"It is incorrect to say it's a light sentence, it's not," said Roux.

"It is not for the State to get over the hurdles, as it put it, it is for the State to first get out of the starting block."

Roux said it should be common cause that the State could not appeal facts.

The argument that someone intended to shoot, but could not foresee it would kill a person, was a factual finding.

As Roux spoke, Nel and Wits law lecturer Prof James Grant, who helped the State with the case, sat taking notes and perusing a law book.

Masipa thanked both counsel and postponed the case to Wednesday 9.30am.

"I want to think about it," she said.

Pistorius was sentenced to a further three years, suspended for five years, for discharging a firearm at Tasha's restaurant in Sandton, Johannesburg, in January 2013.

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