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Too much mercy for Oscar: Nel

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The High Court in Pretoria showed “too much mercy” to Oscar Pistorius in sentencing him to five years for shooting dead Reeva Steenkamp, the State argued on Tuesday.

“I say with utmost respect, too much mercy is shown,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued in the State’s application for leave to appeal Pistorius’s sentence and conviction.

“Perhaps the element of mercy was over-exaggerated.”

He said a long custodial sentence in his opinion would have been 10 years.
On October 21, Judge Thokozile Masipa sentenced Pistorius to five years for Steenkamp’s culpable homicide.

The State filed papers last month calling for a heavier conviction and harsher sentence.

“We are appealing the acquittal on the conviction of murder,” Nel said.
The court had not taken all circumstantial evidence into account when it sentenced Pistorius, he argued.

The athlete knew there was someone behind the door of the toilet cubicle in his house when he fired four shots through it. He knew the person inside had no way to escape.

During his trial Pistorius testified that he accidentally shot dead Steenkamp through the locked toilet door of his home on Valentine’s Day last year, thinking she was an intruder.

During the application Nel said he would deal with a case that could present a hurdle for the State’s application, the Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling in State vs Seekoei, which limited the State’s right of appeal.

The 1982 Seekoei case held the State could not appeal if a conviction was made on a competent verdict. According to the Seekoei ruling, the State could only appeal an acquittal, not a conviction on a lesser charge.
Pistorius was initially charged with premeditated murder, but was convicted of culpable homicide.

Nel said he received help from law lecturer Prof James Grant, who sat on his right on Tuesday. Quoting case law, Nel referred the court to a verdict in the Constitutional Court that rendered the Seekoei judgment invalid. The State believed it could persuade the appeal court to hear the Pistorius matter.

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

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