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12 September 2014

Oscar Pistorius found guilty of culpable homicide

The South African athlete has been cleared of premeditated and second-degree murder.

By New Statesman

Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of culpable homicide. He was yesterday cleared of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that the prosecution had not provided sufficient evidence for a conviction of pre-meditated murder. Steenkamp was shot three times at Pistorius’s home in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day 2013.

“The evidence failed to prove the accused had intention [to kill],” said Masipa. “The accused had the intention to shoot at the person behind the door, not to kill.”

She also stated that a “reasonable person” would not have fired the shots, and that Pistorius had acted “too hastily and used excessive force. In the circumstances, it is clear his conduct was negligent”.

The athlete was also found guilty on one firearms charge (that of negligently handling a firearm that went off in a restaurant), but acquitted on two others. He could face up to 15 years in prison from the culpable homicide charge. However, there is no minimum sentence for this offence.

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Update 12 September, 12:09pm:

The judge has granted Oscar Pistorius bail until his sentencing on 13 October, meaning that he can walk out of the court with his family today.

It also looks likely that he will be permitted to resume his athletic career. Craig Spence, director of media and communications for the International Paralympic Committee, has told BBC Radio 5 Live:

Oscar’s done a great deal for the Paralympic movement. He’s been an inspiration to millions, but obviously his priority now is to see [what] the judge decides. And then if he wishes to resume his athletics career then we wouldn’t step in his way – we would allow him to compete again in the future.”