Oscar Pistorious, first disabled athlete to compete in able-bodied Olympics, sentenced to five years in prison

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Kathleen Noland

Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison for murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The South African runner was convicted of culpable homicide, a South African legal term equivalent to manslaughter, on October 21.

Pistorius, a double amputee, has admitted that he shot his girlfriend. Prosecutors claimed that he was planning to kill her. Pistorius testified in court that he thought she was an intruder and shot her through a bathroom door by mistake.

Pistorius, also known as the “Blade Runner,” became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics when he ran for South Africa in 2012. He has won metals in several Paralympics for sprinting events, six of which were gold. The “Blade Runner” ran the 400 meter and was on the South African 4x400 meter team in the 2012 London Olympics, placing 8th in both events.

On October 28, prosecutors announced that they would appeal the verdict. The South African law allows for double jeopardy, so Pistorius can be tried twice for the same crime. The decision to appeal ties back to prosecutors’ claims that Judge Thokozile Masipa misinterpreted the law when she acquitted Pistorius of murder and convicted him on a lesser charge. The appeal has been filed within the 14-day time span that is allowed by law. The next step is for Judge Masipa to grant permission for the appeal. If the appeal is granted, Pistorius case will be reviewed by a panel of three to five judges in the Supreme Court of Appeal. If the conviction is changed to murder in the appeal, Pistorius will receive a 15-year minimum sentence.

“We take note of the announcement made by the state. The legal process must take its course,” said Pistoruis’ uncle.

If the 27-year-old runner is not convicted of murder in the retrial, he could be eligible for parole in 10 months and could serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest.

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