Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

Oscar Pistorius Trail 3/24 - H 2014
AP Images

Oscar Pistorius Trail 3/24 - H 2014

Last month, a judge in South Africa found the athlete guilty of "culpable homicide" amid intense media coverage

A South African judge has sentenced athlete Oscar Pistorius to five years in prison for "culpable homicide."

Last month, he was found not guilty of premeditated murder of his 29-year-old model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Judge Thokozile Masipa then delivered the verdict of culpable homicide, which is defined as the "unlawful negligent killing of a human being" and is roughly likened to manslaughter.

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Pistorius said he thought there was an intruder in the house on the night of Valentine’s Day 2013 when he shot Steenkamp. The judge said he acted "too hastily" and used "excessive force" when firing four shots through a bathroom door, arguing a "reasonable" person would not do that. Overall, she concluded his conduct was "negligent."  

The judge had also found Pistorius guilty of negligently handling and firing a gun in a restaurant, but acquitted him of a charge in a separate shooting incident and an illegal ammunition charge. For the gun count, the judge on Tuesday gave Pistorius a suspended three-year prison sentence. It will be suspended for five years.

The judge on Tuesday started outlining the arguments behind her sentence at 9:30 a.m. local time, with international media covering the news. Among others, Britain's BBC News and Sky News covered the court session live, with the actual sentence announced at around 10:35 a.m. local time. There was no reaction from Pistorius visible on TV.

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Known as the Blade Runner for the curved prosthetics he ran on, Pistorius came to global attention two years ago when he became the first double-leg amputee to participate in the Olympics. He ran the men's 400 meters race at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Since it started last year, the case quickly became one of the most high-profile trials across the world, with Pistorius among South Africa’s biggest names, having won multiple Paralympics medals along with winning competitions in able-bodied competitions. The judge had ruled that parts of the trial could be broadcast live via television, prompting many news channels to give it wall-to-wall coverage.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai