Reuters International

Former Paralympian Oscar Pistorius appears for sentencing for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp at the Pretoria High Court, South Africa June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Deaan Vivier/Pool

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By TJ Strydom

PRETORIA (Reuters) - Oscar Pistorius must pay for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, her father told a South African court on Tuesday, adding that forgiving the Paralympian runner for his crime was very hard.

The 29-year-old gold medallist faces a minimum 15-year jail term after his manslaughter conviction for the 2013 killing, for which he originally received a five-year sentence, was upgraded on appeal.

Called to testify by the lead state prosecutor in Pistorius's sentencing hearing, a tearful and trembling Barry Steenkamp said his daughter's death had devastated her family.

"I ended up having a stroke and so many things since then have happened... I just don't wish that to anybody in this world," he told the court.

"He has to pay for his crime," Steenkamp, 73, said of Pistorius, who he found it very difficult to forgive.

Steenkamp said he and wife June had relied financially on their daughter, and he had "jabbed (himself)... with needles" to try to relive the pain that she went through.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court on Monday, the first day of the hearing, that Pistorius has shown no remorse for shooting and killing Steenkamp when he fired four shots through a locked toilet door in his Pretoria home.

Nel disputed a claim by Jonathan Scholtz, a psychologist called by Pistorius' lawyer that Pistorius was "a broken man" who should be hospitalized and not jailed, saying the track star had been violent while serving his sentence.

FIERCE DEBATE

The case has prompted a fierce debate in a country beset by high levels of violent crime against women. Some rights groups have said the white athlete has received preferential treatment.

Earlier on Tuesday Ebba Gudny Gudmundsdottir, from Iceland, described the athlete as an inspiration to her 11-year-old son, who has a similar disability to Pistorius.

The lower part of the athlete's legs were amputated when he was a baby, and he is known as "Blade Runner" for the carbon-fibre prosthetics he wore when racing.

Gudmundsdottir told the court Pistorius often visited her family in Iceland and her family travelled to Manchester to see Pistorius race. "It was an inspiration for him (her son) to see Oscar and the others run," she said.

At his original trial, Pistorius had argued he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder.

His manslaughter conviction was upgraded to murder after an appeal heard by the Supreme Court, which ruled in March that Pistorius had exhausted all his legal options.

The original trial judge, Thokozile Masipa, is also presiding at the sentencing hearing, at Pretoria High Court.

(Additional reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Writing by James Macharia; editing by John Stonestreet)

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