Pistorius trial in south africa: reckless fatal shooting

Not for murder, but for involuntary manslaughter, the court has convicted athlete Oscar Pistorius. The sentence is still pending.

Oscar Pistorius at the guilty verdict: without emotion. Photo: Reuters

South African sports star Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Judge Thokozile Masipa had already indicated her verdict in court on Thursday, but at the same time caused outrage among the public and legal experts: The 27-year-old disabled athlete had been acquitted of murder charges. She had also ruled out manslaughter for the 2013 shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the reading of her verdict the previous day.

Pistorius reacted calmly to the verdict, which could see him jailed for up to 15 years. There is no minimum sentence, and although one of the most spectacular trials in South African history has now come to an end in front of running television cameras in the Pretoria court after 41 days of hearings and months of witness hearings since March, Pistorius will have to wait for the sentence for his crime: The judge has not yet set it.

In the meantime, the prosecution and defense will present their arguments for a particularly harsh or lenient punishment. For the prosecution, Masipa’s sentence is a defeat, as the prosecution had based its trial strategy on proving Pistorius’ premeditated murder of the blonde model after an argument on Valentine’s night 2013 at Pistorius’ luxury Pretoria estate.

The one-time hero of the South African sports world had never denied killing his girlfriend with his shotsh. However, he had always maintained that he suspected a burglar behind the locked bathroom door. Many legal experts in South Africa agreed that the prosecution did not have a watertight case for its charge of planned murder, but assumed a conviction for premeditated murder.

The judge charged Pistorius with negligence in handling the gun, however, saying he could not have known that the shots could actually be fatal through the closed door.

For the parents of the shot model Reeva Steenkamp, this guilty verdict for Pistorius is a hard blow, they cried unrestrained in court. If the prosecution appeals, the trial could again last for months. Pistorius remains at large until further notice after posting bail ahead of the trial.

The sentence is due to be handed down on the 13th. October will be announced.