South Africa’s top appeals court ruled on Thursday that paralympian Oscar Pistorius’ conviction be scaled up to murder from culpable homicide for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.
“Guilty of murder, with the accused having criminal intent,” judge Lorimer Leach told the court. “The matter is referred back to the trial court to consider an appropriate sentence.”
Last year a judge gave Pistorius a five-year jail sentence for “culpable homicide” of Steenkamp, but prosecutors argued that the “Blade Runner” should be convicted of murder.
He now faces a 15-year prison sentence, the minimum punishment for murder in South Africa.
Pistorius, 29, had been convicted of culpable homicide last year, for shooting Steenkamp through a toilet door in his home early on Valentine’s Day 2013. Prosecutors said Pistorius shot Steenkamp during an argument, while the defence said Pistorius killed Steenkamp by mistake, thinking she was an intruder.
The former track star was put under house arrest at his uncle’s mansion in a Pretoria suburb on October 19 after serving one year of a five-year prison sentence, in line with the guidelines of South Africa’s correctional services department.
In November , prosecutors argued at the Supreme Court of Appeal, which is in Bloemfontein city, that the judge at Pistorius’ murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria made errors when she acquitted him of murder.
They said the runner should have known that someone could be killed when he fired four times through the door of a toilet cubicle.
Under the concept of “dolus eventualis” in South African law, a person can be convicted of murder if they foresaw the possibility of someone dying through their actions and went ahead anyway.
Pistorius, a multiple Paralympic champion, became one of the world’s most famous athletes and the first amputee to run at the Olympics and the able-bodied world championships. He was known as “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fiber running blades.