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South Africa’s highest court dismisses Oscar Pistorius appeal

 Oscar Pistorius appears at a bail hearing for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in Pretoria, South Africa, in this February 22, 2013 file photo. .
Oscar Pistorius appears at a bail hearing for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in Pretoria, South Africa, in this February 22, 2013 file photo. . AP Photo/Themba Hadebe

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s highest court has dismissed Oscar Pistorius’ appeal of his murder conviction, a lawyer said Thursday, signalling that the former track star’s long legal battle since he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp may be drawing to a close.

The ruling by the constitutional Court clears the way for a judge to sentence the double-amputee runner for murder at a hearing scheduled for April 18.

“We’ll proceed to the sentencing,” defence lawyer Andrew Fawcett said.

READ MORE: Oscar Pistorius granted bail pending sentencing for murder conviction

Pistorius, who killed Steenkamp in 2013, had appealed to the constitutional Court, saying another court erred when it overturned a manslaughter conviction and declared the Olympic athlete guilty of murder.

Pistorius spent one year of a five-year sentence in jail for the lesser offence. He is currently under house arrest, staying at his uncle’s mansion in Pretoria.

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The minimum sentence for murder in South Africa is 15 years, though a judge can reduce that sentence for what the law describes as exceptional circumstances.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp through the door of a toilet cubicle in his home early on Valentine’s Day 2013. Prosecutors said he killed her after an argument; Pistorius said he killed her by mistake, thinking there was an intruder in the house.

READ MORE: South African appeals court convicts Oscar Pistorius of murder

Pistorius, a multiple Paralympic champion, became the first amputee to run at the Olympics and the able-bodied world championships. He was known as “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fiber running blades.