The South African Supreme Court doubled the prison sentence of Oscar Pistorius from the original six years to 13 years and five months over the killing of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.
That means he needs to serve at least seven years before he can be eligible for a parole. The former Olympian already served one year and seven months while his trial is ongoing.
The new ruling was announced by Supreme Court Justice Willie Seriti who said that the panel of judges thought that the initial sentence by the lower court judge Thokozile Masipa was too lenient. The six-sentence would mean that Pistorius would be eligible for a parole in 2019.
The Supreme Court rarely upends the sentences of the lower court unless there’s gross miscarriage of justice. The high court only focuses on the legal interpretation of the law.
Ulrich Roux, legal analyst, said that nobody expected the court justices to change the sentence of Pistorius. “But, if one looks at what the law states, and given the fact that murder does carry the minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, I think the decision could be vindicated,” he said.
Meanwhile, Barry and June Steenkamp are relieved by the decision of the Supreme Court. The legal counsel of the family, Tania Koen, said that they thought that their daughter finally achieved justice with the new decision from the Supreme Court.
“But at the same time, people must realize that people think this is the end of the road for them. … The fact is they still live with Reeva’s loss every day,” he said.
Pistorius can still appeal the Supreme Court ruling, but it’s rarer still for the justices to change their minds.
The Paralympian, who earned the moniker ‘Blade Runner,’ shot his girlfriend through the bathroom door using a 9mm pistol three years ago on Valentine’s Day in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius insisted that it was an accident because he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar.