Oscar Pistorius sentencing for Steenkamp murder set for June

Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius leaves the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, on Oct. 13, 2014. South African track star Oscar Pistorius had a good day for his first sentencing hearing as three defend witnesses try hard to mitigate the sentence. (Xinhua/Zhai Jianlan)

A South African court announced  that Paralympian Oscar Pistorius will be sentenced in June for the murder of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The former Paralympian’s culpable homicide conviction — and its five-year prison sentence — was overturned by the Supreme Court in December last year when appeal judges instead found him guilty of murder, The Guardian reported. Pistorius was in court in Pretoria as Judge Aubrey Ledwaba, who presided over an earlier bail hearing, told him he would face a fresh sentencing hearing from June 13-17.

The athlete, who is living at his uncle’s home in Pretoria, will remain on bail until the new hearing.

At his original trial, Judge Thokozile Masipa accepted his version of events, ruling that there was no evidence that Pistorius had wanted to kill Steenkamp, but that his actions had been negligent.

Pistorius was originally handed a sentence of five years for the culpable homicide conviction and served just under a year in prison.

He was released under house arrest in October 2015, before the state successfully challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court.

It may be recalled that Pistorius has been on the limelight ever since the fateful day on 14 February 2013, Pistorius shot and killed South African model Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria. Pistorius acknowledged that he shot Steenkamp, causing her death, but said that he mistook her for a possible intruder.

Pistorius’ trial for murder began on 3 March 2014 in Pretoria. On 20 May 2014, the trial proceedings were adjourned until 30 June to enable Pistorius to undergo psychiatric evaluation to establish whether he could be held criminally responsible for shooting Steenkamp. Judge Thokozile Masipa agreed to a request for the evaluation by prosecutor Gerrie Nel after forensic psychiatrist Merryll Vorster testified for the defence that she had diagnosed Pistorius with generalized anxiety disorder.

On 30 June 2014, the trial resumed after the evaluation reports which said Pistorius could be held criminally responsible. The state prosecutor was quoted as saying, “Mr. Pistorius did not suffer from a mental illness or defect that would have rendered him criminally not responsible for the offence charged”.The defence closed its case on 8 July and closing arguments were heard on 7 and 8 August.

On 12 September, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide and one firearm-related charge, of reckless endangerment related to discharging a firearm in a restaurant. He was found not guilty of two firearm-related charges relating to illegal possession of ammunition and firing a firearm through the sunroof of a car. On 21 October 2014, he received a prison sentence of a maximum of five years for culpable homicide and a concurrent three-year suspended prison sentence for the separate reckless endangerment conviction. ( IANS)