South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal increased Oscar Pistorius’ murder sentence on Friday to 13 years and five months after the state argued that his original sentence of six years was “shockingly lenient”.
Pistorius was imprisoned in July last year after being found guilty on appeal of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013 in a case that attracted worldwide interest.
The athlete was not in court for Friday’s ruling where the judge handed down the minimum 15-year sentence prescribed for murder in South Africa, and subtracted the time Pistorius had already served.
“The sentence imposed… in respect of murder is set aside and substituted with the following: the respondent is sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 13 years and five months,” the judge said, reading out the court’s decision.
The athlete was originally convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in jail. That conviction was raised to murder by the Supreme Court in December 2015 and his sentence was increased to six years by trial judge Thokozile Masipa.
Steenkamp’s family welcomed Friday’s increased sentence and said it showed that justice could prevail in South Africa.
“This is an emotional thing for them. They just feel that their trust in the justice system has been confirmed this morning,” Tania Koen, a spokeswoman for the Steenkamp family, told Reuters.
Rights groups in a country beset by high levels of violent crime against women say Pistorius received preferential treatment compared to non-whites and those without his wealth or international celebrity status.