Oscar Pistorius jailed for 6 years for Reeva Steenkamp murder
Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and observers immediately criticised the sentence as lenient.
South Africa has a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for murder unless an offender can show reasons why it should be reduced.
Judge Thokozile Masipa said those “substantial and compelling circumstances” did exist in the case of the world-famous runner, who shot Ms Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet door in his home in 2013.
Judge Masipa called the double-amputee Olympian a “fallen hero”.
Pistorius will be eligible for parole after three years. Prosecutors can appeal for a heavier sentence.
One of Pistorius’ defence lawyers said they would not appeal against the decision.
“The family accepts the judgment,” Anneliese Burgess, a spokeswoman for the Pistorius family, said outside the courtroom.
In deciding to deviate from the minimum of 15 years, Judge Masipa said Pistorius is a “good candidate for rehabilitation” and is unlikely to reoffend.
Pistorius will be eligible for parole after serving half the sentence under new legislation in South Africa, legal expert Marius du Toit said.
“I think it’s lenient but not wrong,” Mr Du Toit said of the sentence.
Pistorius was asked to stand and face Judge Masipa as she announced his sentence in a wood-panelled courtroom in the South African capital, Pretoria.
He was calm after the sentence was announced, embracing his aunt and tearful sister before being led down a courtroom staircase to a holding cell ahead of being taken to prison.
In delivering her sentence, Judge Masipa referred to the difficulties she faced in deciding a sentence that “satisfies every relevant interest” in a case that captured the world’s attention and led to extremes of opinion over the athlete.
However, she said public opinion was one thing that was not relevant.
Prosecutors had sought at least 15 years in prison for the 29-year-old Pistorius.