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Oscar will now plead for leniency: law expert

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Oscar Pistorius will now have to provide a compelling reason why he should not be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in jail for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a legal expert said on Thursday.

“He is still serving his sentence for culpable homicide, and the sentencing will be heard afresh by the high court,” Marius du Toit, a defence lawyer and former prosecutor, told News24.

“He is now facing a 15-year jail term, unless he provides substantial and compelling reasons to the high court to deviate from that.”

Du Toit said it was possible that Pistorius would be able to provide a compelling reason.

“He was sentenced to five years [for the culpable homicide]. I think he is capable of maybe bringing it [the murder sentence] down to a 10 year sentence, suspended for five years.”

Error in law

Pistorius is currently under correctional supervision at his uncle’s home in Pretoria.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on Thursday replaced Pistorius’s culpable homicide conviction with murder, ruling that he should have foreseen the deadly impact his four bullets would have in a small bathroom.

Justice Eric Leach said when handing down the judgment: “He [Pistorius] fired four shots through the door and he never offered an acceptable explanation… he fired not one, but four shots… that is exactly what the accused did.

“I have no doubt that in firing the fatal shots, the accused… did foresee that whoever was behind that toilet door might die.”

He said the trial court made an error in law in applying the principles of dolus eventualis (perpetrators foreseeing the risk of death occurring but nevertheless proceeding with the act).

Du Toit said the law had prevailed in the SCA judgment, and it was good to have the SCA clarify the principles of dolus eventualis.

Legal analyst Pierre de Vos tweeted: “The SCA judgment is also just. One cannot justify anyone killing a person without any proof that he/she poses a real threat to you or others.” NEWS24


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