Oscar Pistorius sentenced to 5 years in prison

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PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius was taken away in a

police van with barred windows Tuesday to start serving a five-year

prison sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Delivering her sentence, Judge Thokozile Masipa cited the "gross

negligence" the double-amputee Olympic runner showed when he shot

Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home.

Pistorius, who had cried and retched during his trial, was unemotional

as he stood to hear his sentence. His prison term begins immediately

and he was led down a flight of stairs and toward holding cells before

leaving the South African courthouse in the armored vehicle.

Pistorius could be released after 10 months in jail to serve the

remainder under house arrest,according to legal experts.

Steenkamp's parents were also in court to hear the sentence and the

dead model's mother, June, said justice had been done. A close friend

of Steenkamp, Gina Myers, said: "I really don't think any of us will

heal anytime soon … there will always be questions."

Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said: "Oscar will embrace this

opportunity to pay back to society." He appealed to reporters to give

the family privacy after what he called "20 months of relentless

public trial."

Pistorius' uncle also criticized state prosecutors for pursuing a

premeditated charge against Pistorius, and said "they decided to

inflict as much collateral damage as they could."

Masipa said her sentence was a balancing act between retribution and clemency.

"I am of the view that a non-custodial sentence would send a wrong

message to the community," Masipa said after summarizing parts of the

case and explaining why she reached her decision. "On the other hand,

a long sentence would not be appropriate either as it would lack the

element of mercy."

Masipa last month convicted Pistorius of culpable homicide, but

acquitted him of murder after he testified he mistook Steenkamp for a

nighttime intruder. She asked Pistorius to stand as she delivered the

sentence Tuesday, and he faced her with his hands clasped in front of

him. Pistorius was then led away by police, stopping briefly to grip

the hands of his uncle and other family members as he headed to


Pistorius' defense and the prosecution have 14 days to lodge any

appeal against the judge's decision.

Prosecutors said they are considering whether to appeal the sentence,

where Pistorius, 27, could serve less than a year in jail for killing

his 29-year-old girlfriend.

Nathi Mncube, the prosecution spokesman, said his office was

disappointed in the culpable homicide conviction and had not yet

decided whether to appeal the sentence.

"We have not made up our minds whether we're going to appeal it or

not," he said. He added that there was an "appetite" to appeal but

that prosecutors would review their options.

"We are satisfied with the fact that he will be serving some time in

prison," Mncube said.

Masipa had a wide range of options available to her because South

Africa does not have a minimum sentence for culpable homicide, which

is comparable to manslaughter. Pistorius faced up to 15 years in jail,

but could also have received a completely suspended sentence or house


Marius du Toit, a legal analyst and criminal defense lawyer, said

Pistorius would have to serve one-sixth of his sentence in prison — 10

months — before he could be eligible to be moved to house arrest.

"It's an appropriate sentence," du Toit said. He said a higher

sentence would have been impossible because "you cannot elevate the

sentence to murder."

Another analyst, law professor Kelly Phelps, said Judge Masipa had

done "a remarkable job at balancing all of the competing interests

that were weighing down on her."

As Pistorius left in the police van, a raucous crowd gathered around

the vehicle, whistling, shouting and banging on the caged windows.


Imray reported from Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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