Pistorius’ lawyers argue SCA breached his right to a fair trial

Former Paralympian Oscar Pistorius and his legal team believe the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) breached his right to a fair trial‚ because it “impermissibly disregarded or ignored material factual findings” the Pretoria High Court made.

“It can only interfere if it concludes‚ on the basis of those facts‚ there was still a misdirection sufficient to vitiate the sentence‚” Pistorius’ legal team argued in court papers filed at the Constitutional Court on Monday.

“When this occurs‚ the appellate court is exceeding its powers and breaching the rights of an accused to a fair trial.”

Pistorius is contesting the SCA extending his sentence from six years to 13 years and five months on November 24 this year for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

He was originally convicted of culpable homicide in the Pretoria High Court on September 12 2014. The SCA upgraded his conviction to murder on December 3 2015. The High Court then sentenced Pistorius to six years’ imprisonment in July 2016. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was unhappy with this sentence and took the matter back to the SCA on appeal.

Pistorius’ legal team argue that because he did not have a right to a fair trial‚ it touches on the constitutional question of the power and jurisdiction of an appellate court in sentencing.

“The question of the powers of and approach adopted by the SCA raises an arguable point of law of general public importance‚ which ought to be considered by this court (Constitutional Court).”

Pistorius has served one year in prison and seven months under correctional supervision.

His legal team argue Pistorius is “being deprived of parole”‚ because it is being considered on the basis of his sentence of 13 years and five months and not the full 15 years.

They believe the SCA did not take Pistorius’ disability and anxiety disorder into account when he believed there was an intruder in the bathroom.

“The fact that his (Pistorius’) perception did not meet objective criteria for rationality did not convert his actions into an evil intent nor did it eradicate his incorrect irrational subjective belief.”

Pistorius is currently incarcerated at the Atteridgeville Correctional Facility in Pretoria.