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Pistorius Gets 5-Year Prison Sentence for Killing Girlfriend

  • VOA News
  • Sithandekile Mhlanga

A heavily guarded vehicle carries Oscar Pistorius to prison, Pretoria, South Africa, Oct. 21, 2014.

A heavily guarded vehicle carries Oscar Pistorius to prison, Pretoria, South Africa, Oct. 21, 2014.

Defense lawyers said after the ruling they expect Pistorius will serve about 10 months in prison before completing his time under house arrest.

A South African judge has sentenced Olympian Oscar Pistorius to five years in prison for fatally shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Judge Thokozile Masipa announced her verdict Tuesday in Pretoria, nearly seven months after the high-profile trial began.

Defense lawyers said after the ruling they expect Pistorius will serve about 10 months in prison before completing his time under house arrest.

Prosecutors had pushed for a 10-year prison sentence, while the defense argued for house arrest and community service because they felt the double-amputee would face difficulties in prison.

Masipa said she is "satisfied" the corrections department is equipped to handle inmates with special needs, and described her verdict as "fair and just, both to society and to the accused."

Culpable homicide

Pistorius was convicted last month of culpable homicide for shooting Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door at his home in February 2013.

He said he mistook her for a nighttime intruder.

The Olympian faced a more serious charge of murder, but Masipa ruled that prosecutors did not prove he intentionally shot Steenkamp.

The judge also gave Pistorius a three-year suspended sentence Tuesday for a firearms charge in the case, which will run concurrently with the sentence for culpable homicide.

As during the trial, the families of both Pistorius and Steenkamp were present Tuesday, sitting on benches on opposite sides of the courtroom.

Pistorius is known as the "blade runner" for his carbon-fiber prosthetic legs. He became the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics when he ran at the 2012 games in London.

Pistorious started serving his term at Kgotshi Mampuru 11 prison in Pretoria Tuesday afternoon.

For perspective on this issue, V-O-A reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga reached legal expert Job Sibanda, who says the sentence is appropriate because it falls within the acceptable range of culpable homicide.

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