Oscar Pistorius gets six years jail in prison
A South African judge has sentenced Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius to six years in prison for his girlfriend’s murder — the latest ruling in a drawn-out case that has transfixed the nation for years. Barring any appeal, this would be the last sentencing for a man who has drifted from hero to villain following the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his home in an upscale Pretoria neighborhood in the early hours of Valentine’s Day three years ago.
Pistorius , known as the Blade runner had claimed that the act was an accident, after he mistook her for an intruder, but the prosecution insisted it was a deliberate act after the two had an argument.
The same judge originally convicted him of manslaughter in 2014 after months of hearings, but a higher court reversed that to murder last year, leading to Wednesday’s sentencing.
Barring an appeal, it will be the final sentencing in a saga that started when Pistorius fired four bullets through his bathroom door on that fateful morning in February 2013.
Despite a series of hearings, questions remain about exactly what happened at 4 a.m. that morning. Stunned fans have wondered how the celebrated former Olympian and Paralympic gold medalist turned into a killer.
The prosecution has said that Pistorius had a violent streak, and that he murdered his lover after a late-night argument. But the judge said there was no evidence supporting the accusation that the two had a fight.
The defense has always maintained that the amputee track star mistakenly believed Steenkamp was an intruder and feared for his life when he shot through the door.
While the opposing sides offer different versions of what happened, one thing is certain: Pistorius will not be a free man for a long time.
And it’s not the first time he’s going to prison in Steenkamp’s killing.
After a nearly 50-day trial stretched over seven months, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide (much like manslaughter) in September 2014.
Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled the sprinter had acted negligently when he shot Steenkamp, but that he didn’t do it intentionally, and sentenced him to five years in prison.
He served a year of that sentence, and was released to house arrest in October.
But the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the verdict last December, and found him guilty of murder. 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.
The minimum prison sentence for murder in South Africa is 15 years, and the prosecution had called for no less. But the defense tried to secure a shorter sentence by arguing that his disability and emotional state were mitigating factors.
In giving him six years, Masipa cited mitigating circumstances for the lesser punishment, saying Pistorius is genuinely remorseful and a good candidate for rehabilitation.
She described him as a “fallen hero” who will never be at peace.
“It must be one of the most difficult things for any accused to have to face the victims of his crime and to apologize,” the judge told the court.
Pistorius’ defense team will not appeal the six-year sentence, and the prosecution has not said whether it will.
Some decried the sentence, saying his celebrity status contributed to a lenient sentence. CNN