June Steenkamp, Reeva's mother, reacts as the verdict is read out
Oscar Pistorius latest: Murder verdict means Reeva Steenkamp 'will now be able to rest', family saysOscar Pistorius has been found guilty of murder, after the South African supreme court overturned his conviction of manslaughter for shooting his girlfriend in 2013.
The disgraced Paralympian and Olympian double amputee killed Reeva Steenkamp in the early morning of Valentine's Day, firing four times into a small locked bathrom cubicle she was inside.
Barry Steenkamp, Reeva's father, said in an emotional interview after the verdict was read out that his daughter "will now be able to rest", adding that he felt justice had finally been done.
Justice Lorimer Leach delivered the unanimous ruling by the five-judge appeals court on Thursday in Bloemfontein, but said the matter of re-sentencing Pistorius would be left to the trial court in Pretoria.
Pistorius could yet appeal to the Constitutional Court of South Africa if he feels his right to a fair trial has been undermined. His family said in a brief statement that they were consulting their lawyers.
South Africa's top appeals court could send Oscar Pistorius back to jail in a few minutes' time for at least 15 years for killing his girlfriend on Valentine's Day 2013.
Last year a judge gave the disgraced Olympic and Paralympic gold medallist a five-year jail sentence for the "culpable homicide" - effectively manslaughter - of Reeva Steenkamp, but prosecutors say he should be convicted of murder for firing four shots through a locked toilet door.
The athlete left jail on parole in October and is meant to serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest, but the Supreme Court of Appeals could now overrule the original verdict and find him guilty of murder or order a retrial.
State prosecutors who lodged the appeal say Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp and that she fled to a toilet during a row. Pistorius denies deliberately killing Steenkamp, saying he mistook her for an intruder at his home.
Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated when he was a baby but who went on to become a global sporting hero, is not expected to attend Thursday's court session in Bloemfontein, some 400 km (250 miles) southwest of Johannesburg. A judgement was expected about 09:45am (0745 GMT).
The case has prompted a fierce debate in a country beset by high levels of violent crime. Some rights groups say the white track star - dubbed "Blade Runner" because of the carbon fibre prosthetic blades he uses to race - got preferential treatment.
"If the court finds against Pistorius, he's got big problems as he would have to be sentenced afresh. The question is whether the previous judge misapplied the law or not," Johannesburg-based criminal law attorney Zola Majavu said.
At the original trial in September last year, Judge Masipa ruled that the state had failed to prove intent or "dolus eventualis", a legal concept that centres on a person being held responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their actions.
Dolus eventualis refers to whether a person foresees the possibility that his or her action will cause death but carries on regardless.
Breaking : South Africa's supreme court dismisses appeal by state seeking murder conviction for Oscar Pistorius.
Going through a short retelling of the events on the fateful night in February 2013, Justice Leach says he is giving the unanimous judgement of the court.
Corrections : There has been some confusion over whether of not the Oscar Pistorius appeal has been dismissed. An urgent news update from Reuters earlier has been retracted - it appears to have got the case confused with another.
After his brief summing up of the events which led to Reeva Steenkamp's death, according to the findings of the lengthy Pistorius trial, Leach moves on to the original trial judge's verdict - whether those events amounted to murder, or culpable homicide and a five-year sentence.
He says the court needs to determine whether the principle of dolus eventualis was correctly applied as a point of law, and will not reconsider the account of the events of 2013.
[Dolus eventuals : What is it -and how has it affected the Oscar ]
Dolus eventualis murder, also known as common murder, is a lesser charge. In essence, it means that you are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of your actions.
According to South African law, intent in the form of dolus eventualis means it is enough to find someone guilty of murder if the perpetrator objectively foresees the possibility of his or her act causing death and persists regardless of the consequences.
In Pistorius’s case, it would seem that dolus eventualis murder would apply if he had fired four shots into a cubicle that he had known was occupied, aware his actions would kill, regardless of who he thought was in there.
But it is more complicated than that, since Oscar Pistorius was initially put on trial specifically for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.
The Independent :
Giving her verdict in Oscar Pistorius’s trial over the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Judge Thokozile Masipa has had to decide between premeditated murder, dolus eventualis murder, culpable homicide and acquittal.
Going over what must have been proven to find Pistorius guilty of "dolus eventualis" murder, Leach says there must be proof that the perpetrator foresaw the "possibility" of death, not the probable outcome of his actions.
He says dolus eventualis means the wrongdoer went ahead despite foreseeing this possibility, "gambling with the life" of the victim.
He says the original court judge Masipa's ruling of dolus eventualis was "very confusing in various respects" and "wrongly applied".
Leach says Masipa made a "fundamental error" premising the rejection of a murder conviction based on the fact that Pistorius did not think Ms Steenkamp was in the toilet at the time.
He says the principle of "dolus indeterminatus" was wrongly applied. He says murder can still be the verdict even if the perpetrator carries out an action not knowing who could be killed.
Breaking : The original trial court did make an error in law on the point of Pistorius's intended victim.
That meets the first issue in the state's appeal case. He is going on to examine other points, and backing it up with case law from around the world, it seems.
The judge says the original trial court also failed to correctly apply the principles of circumstantial evidence.
He mentions the "failure of the court" to take into account the evidence of a ballistics expert, who said the cubicle of the toilet was so small there was "effectively nowhere for Ms Steenkamp to hide".
The judge says it would be "wholly impractical" to call for a complete retrial, and says that neither side is asking for such an outcome.
The best option, the judge says, is to consider whether the trial court was wrong on the ruling regarding dolus eventualis.
In Leach's view, he says, Pistorius cannot be accepted to have fired into the toilet cubicle unaware of the possible consequences of his actions.
"He never offered an acceptable explanation for having done so." The death of the person in the toilet "was always likely", Leach says.
"I have no doubt that in firing the fatal shots that the accused must have foreseen that the person behind the door may have died," Leach says. "This amounted to dolus eventualis."
Breaking: Oscar Pistorius was guilty of murder
The athlete ought to have been convicted for dolus eventualis murder, and the original sentence must be overturned, appeal judge says.
The sentence is now : Guilty of murder, Leach says.
The matter will be referred back to the original court to reconsider sentencing.
Reeva Steenkamps' mother has just left court holding a single red rose. She is expected to speak later in a statement for the media.
Concluding his ruling, Justice Leach said he wanted to make the point that the original trial judge had still acted with "dignity and patience", and noted that different courts can come to different conclusions.
Judge Masipa will face a lot of questions over this process - and she will be responsible for re-sentencing Pistorius for murder.
South African legal expert on Sky News says there is one higher court Oscar Pistorius can turn to - the Constitutional Court.
Pistorius's legal team have 10 days to consider whether to appeal against this new murder conviction. He will only be granted permission to do so if he can make a case that his constitutional rights have been denied - for example due to the intense media glare on his case.
Many are praising the ruling given by Justice Leach, which took almost an hour and included examples of case law from around the world. Some are suggesting it is the kind of ruling expected of Judge Masipa at the original trial.
Outside the court in Bloemfontein, campaigners against violence towards women from the ANC women's league tell ABC's Martin Cuddihy justice has finally been served.
Pistorius has 10 days to launch a counter-appeal, but currently faces a likely 15 years in prison for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.
The Independent :
Pictures from inside the prison where Oscar Pistorius was held for almost a year have emerged as South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal decides whether he will be sent back there to serve a sentence for murder. Eyewitness News claims a ruling over whether the Paralympian athlete should be charged with murder over the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp is being finalised.
In overturning the original trial verdict, Justice Leach said Pistorius's claim of self defence on the grounds that he feared for his life was not "rational". He said it was clear the person behind the door posed no immediate threat to him when he opened fire with a lethal weapon.
And he said Pistorius was generally not a credible witness, describing his evidence as "implausible". He said the athlete "never explained" acceptably how he could have fired four shots through the door without knowing the person behind it could die.