Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic champion, was sentenced to six years in prison for the willful murder of his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkam, 30, killed with four shots the night of Valentine’s Day in 2013. The verdict was read by the judge Thokozile Masipa from the High court in Pretoria. The judge called Pistorius “a fallen hero who lost his career”. The former Paralympic athlete had been sentenced to five years for manslaughter in the first instance. Pistorius’ lawyers have said he will not make an appeal against the sentence.
The court recognized extenuating circumstances asked by the lawyer, sparing him 15 years of imprisonment. “Each case must be judged according to its facts, seeking balance between the defendant’s personal circumstances, how serious a crime is, the interests of society and that of the victim of the offense – the judge said, while reading the judgment -. All these (factors) have been taken into consideration”.
Shortly before pronouncing the verdict, the judge added that in this case “extenuating factors have greater weight than the aggravating” and that “a long prison sentence will not serve justice,” stressing that “recovery is possible, but it will depend on the way Pistorius will react to the punishment imposed on him.” A light sentence for Oscar Pistorius who even hoped to get away with not going to prison, but to a psychiatric hospital. Yet, South African judges have not granted the request of the defense. In any case, the Paralympic champion, in case of good conduct, may get out of prison in 2 years, after serving a third of his sentence.
Several factors played in favor of a lenient sentence, said his lawyer: “He thought that a thief had entered the house and being without his implants, he felt vulnerable. He fired not once, but 4 times knowing that there was someone in the bathroom. Immediately after discovering that it was Reeva, he has done everything to save her, but in vain. I do not agree with the prosecutor on the fact that Pistorius has shown no remorse since the day of the murder. He tried on several occasions to communicate with the parents of the victim and issued a public apology in this courtroom. He has not shot intentionally wanting to kill Reeva.”
The victim’s parents and relatives are greatly disappointed. They expected a much more severe sentence. In the coming hours, we will know if the prosecution will decide to appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court of Appeal. The Athletic champion was transferred to Kgosi Mampuru, the maximum security prison in Pretoria, where he has already spent 10 months. Pistorius will stay in solitary confinement in the wing of the penitentiary where the hospital is, and will not have contacts with other inmates.