Oscar Pistorius sentencing hearing set for June

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A South African court will convene in June to determine disgraced Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius’s sentence for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a judge said in Pretoria on Monday.

Pistorius’s lawyers last month failed in their final legal bid to reverse a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgement that upgraded his conviction from culpable homicide — the equivalent of manslaughter — to murder.

The double-amputee killed Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day three years ago, saying he mistook her for an intruder when he shot four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.

“Your matter is postponed until June 13, and it will be heard until June 17, do you understand?” Judge Aubrey Ledwaba told Pistorius, who answered “Yes.”

Pistorius, wearing a black suit, black tie and white shirt, left the court after the brief hearing and walked through a scrum of television camera crews outside to get into a vehicle.

The former Paralympic champion, 29, faces a minimum 15-year jail term for murder, which may be reduced due to time he has already spent in prison.

He was released from jail in October to live under house arrest at his uncle’s property in Pretoria after serving one year of his five-year sentence for culpable homicide.

Appeal judges in December described his testimony at his trial in 2014 as “untruthful” and delivered a damning indictment of the original verdict.

They found him guilty of murder, overruling the culpable homicide conviction.

– Dramatic trial –

Pistorius’s lawyers tried to take the case to the Constitutional Court, the highest court in South Africa, but it declined to hear the matter.

Pistorius was last seen in public at a bail hearing in December, after which he was fitted with an electronic monitoring tag.

His legal team told the judge on Monday that the tag had been replaced three times but was often sending false alerts that he had left his uncle’s house.

Under his bail conditions, he has been allowed to leave the house at set times, but not travel further than 20 kilometres (12 miles) without permission.

“During the five days set down for sentencing procedures both sides will present their evidence, the judge will then go back to apply his mind before making his decision,” criminal lawyer Martin Hood told AFP.

Pistorius denied killing Steenkamp in a rage and, during his trial, sobbed in the dock as details of his lover’s death were examined in excruciating detail.

“I was overcome with fear,” he told his trial. “Before I knew it, I’d fired four shots at the door.”

The year before he killed Steenkamp, Pistorius became the first double-amputee to race at Olympic level when appearing at the London 2012 games.

He has since lost his glittering sports career, lucrative contracts and status as a global role model for the disabled.

Steenkamp’s family previously welcomed his murder conviction and described his Constitutional Court appeal as a “delaying tactic” to stay out of jail.

 

– AFP

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