Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp after his original ‘culpable homicide’ conviction was overturned.
The South African former Paralympian athlete, repeatedly shot and killed the 29-year old model in the bathroom of his Pretoria home in February 2013.
This morning, (July 6, 2016) Pistorius appeared at North Gauteng High Court after a three-and-a-half- year legal battle where judge Thokozile Masipa delivered the sentence. The ruling has received support and criticism with some people wondering why the judge deviated from the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years for such a crime. Judge Masipa described Pistorius as a “fallen hero”, and reports say that he will not appeal today’s ruling.
Masipa noted that while the crime committed was serious, a long term of imprisonment will not serve justice in this case. She added that there were “substantial and compelling circumstances” that advised the ruling of six years and the 15-year minimum sentence for murder. Masipa said there was a need to correct the continuing misconception that Pistorius had intentionally killed Steenkamp. This she said would help to “prevent unjustified outrage from the public.”
“Murder is always a very serious crime,” said Masipa. “The fact that the accused thought it was an intruder does not make it less serious.” She added that Pistorius’ act of trying to resuscitate his victim once he learned that it was his girlfriend, all the while hoping for a miracle, showed that he was mistaken.
The new sentence exceeds the original sentence, which he began serving in October 2014, by one year. Pistorius was escorted to Kgosi Mampuru II prison, where he previously served, after the sentencing in Pretoria.
Some rights groups and members of public have described the ruling as unfair citing the fact that Pistorius was a wealthy white man and an international celebrity as reasons for preferential treatment.
"The judge was sympathetic and empathetic to Pistorius. It was clear in the tone of her entire judgment," one of the legal experts outside the court told the BBC.
According to Judge Masipa, however, her ruling had to carefully consider the circumstances around Reeva Steenkamp's death and her sentence needed to be fair to both Pistorius and the family of the deceased.
Other people took to social media to express their thoughts on the Wednesday morning ruling.
On his part, Barry Steenkamp, father of the deceased, told the news outlet that he was pleased that the trial was over, even though life would never be the same again.
The Steenkamp's lawyers meanwhile said in court that there should be a "dignified silence" from now on.
Before all these, Pistorius was a shining star athlete, who at the time of the unforgettable event was preparing for the Olympics in London. The blade runner had intended to retire from his career at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, a dream that is now dead. He became the first amputee to take part at the Olympics, in 2012 in London, running on prosthetic "blades".
His legs were amputated below the knee as a baby.
The troubled 29-year old sold his gun collection and vowed never to touch a gun again.
Image credit: Reuters