Lawyers seek harsher sentence for Oscar Pistorius following girlfriend's murder

Updated: 

South African prosecutors have described the six-year prison term handed to Oscar Pistorius for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp as "shockingly" lenient - and are committed to appealing against it.

Prosecutors had sought 15 years in prison for the double-amputee Olympic athlete, which is the prescribed minimum sentence for murder in South Africa.

But while the judge said there were compelling circumstances in Pistorius's case to give him a lesser term, the prosecution said the six-year sentence was "shockingly too lenient" for the crime of murder and was an "injustice".

Pistorius attended a Glasgow conference in 2011.
Pistorius attended a Glasgow conference in 2011 (Graeme Fleming/University of Strathclyde/PA)

Pistorius was convicted of murder after an appeal by prosecutors, having initially been acquitted of the charge. The Paralympian was previously found guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter and served one year in prison.

The National Prosecuting Authority said it would file appeal papers on Thursday - barely two weeks after the sentencing on July 6 - in a decision that will prolong the three-and-a-half-year legal case.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet cubicle door at his home, in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day in 2013.

He originally claimed he killed her by mistake, thinking she was an intruder hiding in the bathroom, but prosecutors argued he shot her intentionally after an argument.

Reeva Steenkamp's parents June and Barry.
Reeva Steenkamp's parents June and Barry (Channel 5/PA)

In a statement, the prosecuting authority said: "We respectfully submit that the sentence of six years imprisonment, in all the circumstances, is disproportionate to the crime of murder committed. That is to say, shockingly too lenient, and has accordingly resulted in an injustice and has the potential to bring the administration of justice into disrepute."

Judge Thokozile Masipa decided on the six-year jail sentence for the 29-year-old athlete. She was also the judge who oversaw Pistorius's 2014 trial and acquitted him of murder.

In appealing against the six-year sentence, prosecutors first have to get permission from Judge Masipa to take another appeal to the Supreme Court.

Pistorius is currently serving his sentence in a prison in the South African capital Pretoria. Under South African law, he could be eligible for parole after serving half his sentence, or three years.