No intent to kill, it’s culpable homicide!

Pretoria :  A South African judge on Friday found Oscar Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp but declared him not guilty of murder.

Prosecutors said they were disappointed by the ruling but would decide on whether to appeal only after sentencing. Judge Thokozile Masipa said there was not enough evidence to support the contention that Pistorius knew Steenkamp was behind a locked toilet door in his home when he shot through the door in the predawn hours of Valentine’s Day last year.

Masipa said prosecutors had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp. “It’s a big burden off us, off our shoulders,” Pistorius’ uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said. “We always knew the facts of the matter and we never had any doubt in Oscar’s version of this tragic incident.”

Pistorius said he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot her, while the prosecution said he killed her intentionally after an argument. The killing by a national sports hero stunned South Africans, and reactions on the verdict were mixed. “Well I think the verdict is shocking to say the least,” said Leonard Gray in Port Elizabeth, Steenkamp’s home town. “I think there is clear evidence and indications that he committed murder in this case. … I feel sorry for Reeva Steenkamp’s family because they’re not going to get any closure because this guy is basically getting away with murder in my opinion.” However, Shrina Padayachy, also in Port Elizabeth, called the judge’s verdict “fair and just because it’s the prosecution that must prove beyond a reasonable doubt and from what I gather and seen they haven’t.”

Free again after the judge extended his bail, the double-amputee Olympian left the courtroom surrounded by police officers. Pistorius must return on Oct. 13 when his sentencing hearing will start, Judge Masipa said. Pistorius didn’t comment.

The red-robed judge earlier ordered Pistorius, 27, to stand before she delivered the formal verdicts on the multiple counts against him, and said they were unanimous verdicts, meaning she and her two legal assessors agreed on the findings.

The conviction of culpable homicide, or negligent killing, can bring a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, although legal experts pointed to five years as a guideline.

Some legal analysts said they understood why Pistorius was found not guilty of premeditated murder but were surprised that the runner was not convicted of murder. The prosecution also was troubled by the not guilty verdict for murder. “We believe there is sufficient and credible evidence to secure a conviction” on a murder charge, said Nathi Mncube, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in