Oscar Pistorius to be sentenced in June for murder of Reeva Steenkamp
Former athlete remains on bail following appeal court decision to overturn culpable homicide conviction.
18 April 2016
Oscar Pistorius will be sentenced in June for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, a court in South Africa has confirmed.
The former Paralympian’s culpable homicide conviction – and its five-year prison sentence – was overturned by the supreme court in December 2015, when appeal judges instead found him guilty of murder.
On Monday, 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 13-17 June.
Pistorius spoke only to confirm that he understood the judge’s decision.
The athlete, who is living at his uncle’s home in Pretoria, will remain on bail until the new hearing. His lawyer told the court that his tracking device, which he wears on his wrist, had malfunctioned several times, alerting him that he had broken bail conditions while he was in fact at home.
Pistorius had always denied intentionally killing Steenkamp, his girlfriend, in his Pretoria home in the early hours of 14 February 2013. He insisted throughout his lengthy trial that he had mistaken her for an intruder, shooting four times through a locked toilet cubicle door, killing her instantly.
At his original trial, Judge Thokozile Masipa accepted this version of events, ruling that there was no evidence that Pistorius had wanted to kill Steenkamp, but that his actions had been negligent.
But the supreme court found that Masipa had wrongly applied the legal principle of dolus eventualis, which hinges on whether an accused should have foreseen the outcome of his actions. Pistorius “must have foreseen” that firing into the door could cause the death of whoever was behind it, the judges said.
Describing Steenkamp’s death as “a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions”, the judges said: “The accused ought to have been found guilty of murder.”
An attempt by Pistorius’s legal team to have that finding thrown out by the constitutional court, South Africa’s highest judicial authority, was denied in March and he has no further avenues of appeal against the conviction.
The minimum sentence for murder is 15 years in prison, but the defence is likely to argue that Pistorius’s disability – both his legs were amputated as a young boy – and the time he has already served in jail should be taken as mitigating factors.
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 is expected that Masipa will be the judge who hands down the new sentence in June.http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/18/oscar-pistorius-court-murder-sentencing-hearing