'Blade Runner' Pistorius found guilty of murder

Thu Dec 3, 2015 7:59am EST
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By Zandi Shabalala

BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - South Africa's "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius was found guilty on Thursday of murdering his girlfriend, in an appeal court ruling that could see him sent back to prison for at least 15 years.

The Supreme Court upgraded the 29-year-old Paralympian's sentence on appeal to murder from "culpable homicide", South Africa's equivalent of manslaughter, for which he had received a five-year sentence.

Pistorius was released from prison and placed under house arrest on Oct. 19, having spent one day less than a year behind bars for shooting dead model Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013, in a case that attracted worldwide interest and continues to fascinate and divide South Africa.

Members of the ruling African National Congress party's Women's League welcomed the new ruling, dancing and singing outside the court. They have attended the court sessions since the trial began in solidarity with Steenkamp's family and in support of women's rights.

Pistorius had been meant to serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest on his uncle's property in a wealthy suburb of the capital Pretoria.

A new sentence for the Paralympic champion will be handed down at a later date. Pistorius is expected to remain on parole until then, unless a court rules otherwise, officials said.

In their appeal, prosecutors argued that Pistorius should have been convicted of murder for firing four shots through a locked toilet door. They said he intended to kill Steenkamp and that she had fled to the toilet during a row.

"This case involves a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions," Judge Eric Leach said as he read out the ruling.   Continued...

South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius listens to the verdict in his trial at the high court in Pretoria September 12, 2014. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko