MOSCOW, October 21 (RIA Novosti) – Six-time South African Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
According to the athlete's defense team, the law under which he was punished calls for him to serve one-sixth of the prison term (10 months) before he can be placed on house arrest. Pistorius was also given a suspended three-year term on separate firearms charges.
Oscar Pistorius is a double amputee runner who has also taken part in able-bodied competitions. Pistorius won a silver medal in the 4x400 meter relay at the 2011 world championship.
On February 14, 2013, Pistorius was accused of murdering his girlfriend, 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp, whose body was found in his toilet room on that day. The media reported that Steenkamp was planning a surprise for Pistorius on Valentine's Day, but he mistook her for a robber.
The runner admitted that he killed his girlfriend, but said it was an accident. Investigators almost immediately presented a different version of events, as neighbors heard a loud quarrel in the runner's house, and called the police two hours before the tragedy.
Medics and police arrived at the crime scene in his house in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. local time. According to police, Steenkamp had gunshot wounds in her head and one of her hands. A 9 mm pistol, licensed to Pistorius, was found at the crime scene.
Pistorius stood before the court for the first time on February 15. He was accused of premeditated murder, but pleaded not-guilty, insisting on his version of the incident. According to him, he woke up in the middle of the night and went to get a fan from the balcony. On his return to the bedroom he heard sounds from the bathroom (adjacent to the toilet room but separated from it by a door), and thought that a robber had entered the house through a window. Pistorius always kept a pistol under a pillow after he was threatened with murder. He retrieved it, and made his way into the bathroom. Without switching on the light, he shot several times at the door to the toilet room, shouting at his girlfriend to call the police. Only when he heard no answer did he suspect that Steenkamp might have been in the toilet room. After knocking in the door with a cricket bat, Pistorius found her covered in blood but still alive. He lifted her up and carried to the bed, but she died in his arms.
On February 19, 2013 Pretoria Prosecutor Gerrie Nel charged Pistorius with premeditated murder. In February 2013, the court released him on bail for a million South African rands (about $112,700). The court ordered him to check in at a police station twice a week, not to appear at the crime site, not to leave the country, to renounce communication with witnesses in his case, hand in his passport and firearms, and abstain from alcohol and drugs.
In March 2013, Pistorius' lawyers appealed the court's decision not to allow him to leave the country, and the appeal was granted. Pistorius was ordered to present a detailed plan of his trips no later than a week before leaving South Africa. He was also ordered to return his passport to the court within 24 hours after his return to the country.
In March 2014, the Pretoria court began to review the facts of the Pistorius case. Earlier, hearings were suspended twice in the summer of 2013. On June 30, psychiatrists determined that Pistorius was fully responsible for his actions at the time of the shooting.
In the defense's closing statement on August 7, Pistorius' lawyer Barry Roux said that the state prosecution did not present facts that could prove Pistorius' actions were intentional, and that for this reason he could only be charged with manslaughter.
On September 11, 2014, Judge Thokozile Masipa started reading the verdict in the Pistorius case. Masipa ruled that the athlete could not be accused of premeditated murder and adjourned the hearing until the next day.
On September 12, 2014 Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide. His term was announced on October 21, 2014.