Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius arrives for sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, July 6, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]
PRETORIA – South African Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius was sent to prison for six years on Wednesday for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, the latest twist in a trial that has gripped the world.
The state and large sections of the South African public had called for him to receive no less than the prescribed minimum 15-year sentence for murder, saying Pistorius had shown no remorse for the killing.
Judge Thokozile Masipa disagreed, accepting the defence’s arguments for a lesser punishment.
“Public opinion may be loud and persistent but it can play no role in the decision of this court,” Masipa said. “I am of the view that a long term in prison will not serve justice.”
It was not clear whether the state would appeal the verdict.
Dressed in a dark suit, the 29-year-old stared straight ahead as Masipa read out the sentence.
Pistorius’s defense team said he will not appeal the six-year prison sentence given by a South African High Court judge.
Pistorius will serve “between half and two thirds of the sentence” before he can apply for parole, said Andrew Fawcett, Pistorius’ instructing attorney.
Pistorius was found guilty of murdering Steenkamp by an appeals court last December. He had initially received a five-year sentence for a manslaughter conviction in 2014 handed down by Masipa, a ruling derided by women’s groups as too lenient.
In her ruling on Wednesday, Masipa said that although the Steenkamp family had suffered great loss, Pistorius’ life and career was also in ruins.
“The life of the accused shall also never be the same. He is a fallen hero and can never be at peace,” she said.
The athlete had the lower part of his legs amputated when he was a baby and his lawyers argued that his disability and mental stress should be considered as mitigating circumstances to reduce his sentence.
Pistorius was freed from prison last October after almost a year behind bars to serve out the remainder of his five-year term under house arrest at his uncle’s house in a wealthy suburb of the capital.