Oscar Pistorius guilty of murder

Media captionJustice Leach announces the verdict that Pistorius is “guilty of murder”

Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been discovered guilty of murder right after a South African appeals court overturned an earlier manslaughter verdict.

He killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013 after shooting her four occasions by way of a locked toilet door.

He is presently below house arrest right after spending a single year of his original five-year sentence in jail.

Pistorius will have to return to court to be re-sentenced, for murder.

  • Pistorius murder conviction: Live updates

It was earlier incorrectly reported that the court had ruled the manslaughter verdict would stay.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pistorius was released from a jail in Pretoria following serving one year of his original sentence

South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the lower court did not properly apply the rule of dolus eventualis – no matter whether Pistorius knew that a death would be a likely result of his actions.

The minimum sentence for murder is 15 years but judges can apply some discretion.

South African law does not make provision for a person to be placed under house arrest for much more than five years, so Pistorius will be going back to prison, reports the BBC’s Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide in October 2014

Reading the ruling reached by a panel of 5 judges, Justice Eric Leach said that possessing armed himself with a high-calibre weapon, Pistorius have to have foreseen that whoever was behind the door may possibly die.

Pistorius usually maintained that he believed there was an intruder in the property but the judge said that the identity of the individual behind the door was “irrelevant to his guilt”.

Justice Leach compared it to an individual setting off a bomb in a public location not realizing who the victims may well be.

He also rejected the argument that Pistorius had acted in self-defence.

The judge argued that his life was not in danger at the time of the shooting, as Pistorius did not know who was behind the door or if they posed a threat.

He added that Pistorius did “not take that most elementary precaution of firing a warning shot”.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Pistorius competed in each the Olympics and Paralympics in London in 2012

Pistorius did not attend the hearing in Bloemfontein.

But Ms Steenkamp’s mother, June, was present and afterwards she was seen outside the court getting embraced by members of the African National Congress Women’s League, who were singing songs of celebration.

The double amputee was released from prison on 19 October. Below South African law, he was eligible for release beneath “correctional supervision”, possessing served a sixth of his sentence.

Pistorius can challenge the ruling in the constitutional court but only if his lawyers can argue that his constitutional rights have been violated.

Legal specialist Mannie Witz told the BBC that there do not appear to be any grounds for such an appeal.