Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.
A South African appeals court has found the former Paralympic sprint champion guilty of murder. Oscar Pistorius’s previous conviction of “culpable homicide” gave him a five-year jail sentence. It was overturned by South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal on Thursday.
The judge said in summary: “It is inconceivable that a rational person thought he was entitled to fire at this person with a heavy-duty firearm.”
ABC News reports:
Last year a judge gave Pistorius a five-year jail sentence for “culpable homicide” over the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013, but prosecutors on appeal argued that the “Blade Runner” should be convicted of murder.
Judge Eric Leach told the court Pistorius was “guilty of murder, with the accused having criminal intent”.
“The matter is referred back to the trial court to consider an appropriate sentence.”
Pistorius said during his trial last year that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder, whom he killed by firing four shots through a locked toilet door.
“It is inconceivable that a rational person thought he was entitled to fire at this person with a heavy-duty firearm,” Judge Leach said, who described Pistorius’ testimony as “vacillating and untruthful”.
“He ought to have been convicted not of culpable homicide on that count but of culpable murder.”
At the crux of the case was how trial judge Thokozile Masipa interpreted the principle of dolus eventualis — awareness of the likely outcome of an action — under which she acquitted Pistorius of murder.
State prosecutors who lodged the appeal say Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp and that she fled to a toilet during a row.
Judge Masipa, who originally found Pistorius guilty of South Africa’s equivalent of manslaughter, will re-sentence the Paralympic champion at a later date.
In South Africa, a murder conviction usually carries a minimum sentence of 15 years, although Pistorius’ lawyers are likely to argue that his physical disability and mental stress should be considered as mitigating circumstances.
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