A South African appeals court has overturned a manslaughter verdict to murder, in the case of Olympian Oscar Pistorious.
The Athlete killed Reeva Steenkamp, his then girlfriend in February 2013, after she was hit from bullets fired from the other side of a bathroom door. Suggestions had originally implied that the previous manslaughter verdict would not be overturned.
The new verdict means that Oscar will have to return to court to be resentenced, with the minimum sentence for murder in South Africa standing at 15 years at the judge’s discretion.
Reeva’s family were present when the new verdict was announced, with her mother June seen outside the courtroom held tightly by members of African National Congress Women’s League, whom were singing in celebration.
The Judge said that Pistorius ‘had gambled with a person’s life’, adding that he dismissed the idea that the athlete was acting in self-defence. The South African law states that you cannot just shoot, you must first be sure that the threat to your life is real and that there is no other option but to shoot.
Justice Leach stated that Pistorious did ‘not take that most elementary precaution of firing a warning shot’, and declared that the 4 shots he fired were almost certainly guaranteed to kill who ever was behind the door, especially given his firearms training. Oscar always insisted that he thought that he was shooting at a intruder.
The unanimous ruling reached by a panel of five judges, was met with approval from South Africans who took to social media to tweet about the verdict.
It’s likely that he will be back behind bars as he cannot be in his current position of house arrest longer than 5 years.
There may be a possibility of an overruling if it can be proved in a court of law that his constitutional rights had been violated.
Legal experts said that there did not appear to be any grounds for an appeal.