Oscar Pistorius, Olympic phenom and Paralympic champion, has been convicted in the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.
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The South African court, led by Justice Lorimer Eric Leach of the Supreme Court of Appeal delivered the ruling in Bloemfontein and direct the trial court, the North Gauteng High Court, to impose the sentence on Pistorius.
The double amputee was charged with manslaughter, but that charge has been overturned. He is currently under house arrest at his uncle's mansion in Pretoria, but that will likely change once the sentencing is done. He previously served one year of a five year sentence in prison, and did experience some problems early on. However, because he is disabled and a first time offender, they left him out for house arrest.
“The accused ought to have been found guilty of murder on the basis that he had fired the fatal shots with criminal intent,” Leach said to the courtroom, in which Steenkamp’s mother sat.
According to CNN, a 15-year prison sentence is the minimum punishment for murder in South Africa. However, the law allows for a lesser sentence to be imposed in exceptional circumstances, which might be the case in this situation.
Pistorius, 29, killed Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day. He insisted he thought she was an intruder in his home. The prosecution said Pistorius shot Steenkamp during an argument.
Leach thought that Pistorius shouldn't have shot, regardless of who the person was, because he had to know someone could get hurt.
“The identity of his victim is irrelevant to his guilt,” the judge said.
Under the concept of “dolus eventualis” in South African law, a person can be convicted of murder if they foresaw the possibility of someone dying through their actions and went ahead anyway - even if they felt at risk.
Pistorius was not there, but the family of Steenkamp was there. The athlete's family issued a statement:
“The legal team will study the finding and we will be guided by them in terms of options going forward,” the statement said.
A date for Pistorius’ new sentencing will be announced in the city of Pretoria, where he had been tried and imprisoned.
Leach described the story as one of great sadness:
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“A young man overcomes huge physical disabilities to reach Olympian heights as an athlete,” Leach said. “In doing so he becomes an international celebrity. He meets a young woman of great natural beauty and a successful model. Romance blossoms and then ironically, on Valentine’s Day, all is destroyed when he takes her life.”