Oscar Pistorius.jpg
Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius, looks on during the hearing in his murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, 06 July 2016.
Photograph: EPA/MARCO LONGARI/POOL

South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority is seeking permission to appeal the six-year prison sentence handed to athlete Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, describing it as "shockingly too lenient."

The double-amputee Olympic sprinter fired four shots at the model through a bathroom door in his Pretoria home on February 14, 2013.

"We respectfully submit that the sentence of six years imprisonment, in all the circumstances, is disproportionate to the crime of murder committed ... shockingly too lenient, and has accordingly resulted in an injustice," the NPA said in a Thursday statement.

Judge Thokozile Masipa initially sentenced Pistorius to five years in prison for manslaughter in October 2014, accepting his testimony that he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar when he shot her.

The Supreme Court of Appeal overturned her verdict in December, arguing that the athlete knew his shots could kill someone, and found him guilty of murder.

Masipa issued the new six-year sentence on July 6, citing "mitigating circumstances" for not adhering to South Africa's 15-year minimum sentence for murder. Pistorius had shown obvious remorse and was unlikely to reoffend, Masipa said.

The NPA said Thursday it would file the application for permission to appeal the sentence.

"We hope that this appeal will also clarify further the principles of sentencing, particularly in crime categories for which there are prescribed minimum sentences ordained by legislation," the statement said.

Criminal lawyer Keith Gess told dpa it was far from certain that Masipa would grant the prosecutors the permission to appeal because there had been no change in the facts used to decide the sentence.

But Masipa has come under pressure from critics decrying her for being too lenient, and the criticism might prompt her to allow the appeal to go ahead, Gess added.

If permission to appeal is granted, the case will return to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which could modify the sentence.

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