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Pistorius to be sentenced for murder

Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of murdering Reeva Steenkamp by an appeals court in December.

FILE: Convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius will today, for the second time in nearly two years, find out how long he will spend in prison for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The former athlete served one year in jail after the High Court in Pretoria found him guilty of culpable homicide, but the appeal court overturned that finding last year and convicted him of murder.

Pistorius maintains that he shot and killed Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013 in the mistaken belief that she was an intruder.

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp at the SA Sports Awards on 4 November 2012. Picture: AFP.

Judge Thokozile Masipa has had to consider the arguments in aggravation of sentence by the State and mitigation by the defence team.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel says Pistorius should go to prison for no less than 15 years.

"Serious crimes will usually require that retribution and deterrence should come to the fore and that rehabilitation of offender will consequently play a relatively smaller role."

Advocate Barry Roux suggested a non-custodial sentence.

"The public interest would be rationally served in this case by considering a sentence that incorporates community service where the accused gives back to the community whilst not being a burden to the state or the tax payer."

The athlete had the lower part of his legs amputated when he was a baby, and his lawyers have argued that his physical disability and mental stress should be considered as mitigating circumstances to reduce his sentence.

During the hearings, his defence lawyer asked Pistorius to walk on his stumps to show the difficulty he faced dealing with the threat of an intruder.

But the State says he has shown no remorse and has called for him to receive no less than the minimum sentence for murder.

Some rights groups have said Pistorius, a wealthy white man and international celebrity, has received preferential treatment compared to others without his status or wealth.

Pistorius was freed from prison last October after almost a year behind bars to serve out the remainder of his term under house arrest on his uncle's house in a wealthy suburb of Pretoria.

Judge Masipa will deliver the sentence at the Pretoria High Court.

Johannesburg-based lawyer and legal analyst Ulrich Roux said Masipa would have to balance any mitigating circumstances against the seriousness of his crime.

"For her it's a delicate balancing act," said Roux, adding that either the defence or prosecution could mount a legal challenge if they felt that the sentence was lenient or harsh.

In a television interview with British broadcaster ITV aired in June, his first since the shooting, an emotional Pistorius said that Steenkamp would want him to go free.

WATCH: Oscar Pistorius: The Interview

"I don't want to go back to jail. I don't want to have to waste my life sitting there," Pistorius told ITV, statements which caused an uproar on social media.

Manelisi Wolela, a spokesman at the Department of Correctional Services, said Pistorius would be taken to jail immediately after the sentencing.

Additional information by Reuters.

Follow the Oscar Pistorius sentencing live blog here.

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