Friday, October 10, 2014

South Africa: Oscar Pistourius to Hear His Sentence on Monday, Oct. 13

According to EFE, South African paralympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius will stand before a court on Monday (October 13) to know his verdict after being found guilty of manslaughter of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, a crime punishable with up to 15 years in prison.

Judge Thokozile Masipa on September 12, found Pistorius guilty of manslaughter for shooting his girlfriend four times through the bathroom door of his home, in a verdict that has fueled controversy among crime experts who believe it was homicide.

The court ruled that although the shooting was intentional its aim was not to kill the person behind the door, suspected of being a thief who had broken into the house according to Pistorius’ version, which was accepted by the tribunal.

But it also considered the athlete could have called for help or escaped instead of shooting, and found Pistorius guilty of negligence.

COMMENT: Criminal lawyer Martin Hood told EFE the judge had “committed a legal error” which he hoped would be reversed in an appeal, an opinion shared by many experts.

Hood explained that although the judge said Pistorius did not intend to kill Steenkamp, “the truth is he could expect to kill somebody.”

Marius du Toit, another prestigious lawyer, also said there was enough evidence to convict the sprinter of murder. Du Toit doubted the prosecution would file an appeal, which is only accepted when a legal error is suspected, not a mistake in the interpretation of events.

Pistorius’ trial, which was broadcast live on TV, was one of the main topics of discussion in South Africa in the past seven months.

The trial put the South African judiciary under the scrutiny of international public opinion, aware of insecurity in the country, where 47 people are murdered daily, according to police statistics.

“We are perceived as a violent society and this verdict gives the impression our courts tolerate violence,” Hood said.

The verdict can take several days, as judge Masipa hears the prosecution and the defense, which could bring in witnesses in an attempt to reduce the sentence.

The court could also hold deliberations for several weeks, Du Toit said.

Hood said he suspected a suspended sentence would be handed to Pistorius or some other form of punishment, but predicted the athlete would not go to jail.

Meanwhile, Du Toit expects a between five and seven jail sentence, depending on the “degree of negligence” attributed to the athlete.

STAYING SAFE ABROAD will cover the sentencing of Oscar Pistouris on Monday (October 13).

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