Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Oscar Pistorius Sentenced To Six Years In Prison For Killing His Girlfriend

South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to six years in prison for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius said he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and feared for his life when he shot through the door.

The prosecution, however maintained that the amputee athletic star had a violent streak, and that he murdered his lover after a late-night argument.

Pistorius was earlier found guilty of culpable homicide (much like manslaughter) in September 2014 with Judge Thokozile Masipa ruling that the sprinter had acted negligently when he shot Steenkamp.

She however decided that he didn't do it intentionally, and sentenced him to five years in prison.

But the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the verdict last December.

The appeals judge said Pistorius should have known that firing his gun would have killed whoever was behind the door, regardless of who he thought it was -- and found Pistorius guilty of murder.

The minimum prison sentence in South Africa for murder is 15 years, and the prosecution has called for no less.

But the defense has tried to secure a shorter sentence for Pistorius by arguing that his disability and emotional state were mitigating factors.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said the athlete had to be punished for murdering the model and law student but said he had already served 12 months in prison for the previous manslaughter conviction and was remorseful for what he had done.

She said that the athlete would have to serve a custodial sentence because his conviction had been upgraded from manslaughter to murder.

But she added: "I am of the view that a long term of imprisonment would not serve justice in this case."

Judge Masipa, who heard the original trial, told the court: "Public opinion may be loud and persistent, but it can play no role in the decision of this court," as she delivered the verdict. She said the Paralympian was a "fallen hero".

The judge said would hear any requests to appeal her judgement from the state or the defence today.

After the judge delivered her verdict, Reeva's parents June and Barry had no immediate reaction but their lawyer indicated the result was "fair".

It is left to be seen if the defence team of Oscar will decide to appeal the ruling but reports suggests that they will accept the verdict.

The former athlete is expected to serve the sentence in the hospital wing of the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, where he served part of his original sentence.

Barring an appeal, it will be the final chapter of a saga that began on that fateful February morning in 2013 -- when Pistorius fired four bullets through his bathroom door, killing Steenkamp.

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