South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius' future will be decided next week when Judge Thokozile Masipa hands down a sentence on Tuesday. On Friday, the judge heard the final arguments from defense and prosecution lawyers at the end of a five-day-long sentencing hearing that included testimonies from several witnesses.
Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel has demanded a prison sentence of at least 10 years for the 27-year-old Paralympics track star, who was convicted of culpable homicide in September for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Feb. 14, 2013. Pistorius was also found guilty of one charge of discharging a firearm in public.
“The minimum term that society will be happy with will be 10 years imprisonment,” Nel told the hearing. “This is a serious matter. The negligence borders on intent. Ten years is the minimum.” He also claimed, during the hearing, that the double-amputee has been using his disability as an excuse.
Meanwhile, Pistorius’ defense team, led by lawyer Barry Roux, argued that the athlete should not serve time in jail, and insisted that he be given a lighter sentence that would involve house arrest and community service.
According to Nel, house arrest in Pistorius’ uncle’s “luxurious home” or a few hours of community service a month would be “shockingly disproportionate” to the crime he committed.
Roux stressed that Pistorius “genuinely, though erroneously” believed there was an intruder in his Pretoria house on the Valentine’s Day’s night in 2013. He also said that he had accidently shot at the closed door of the bathroom, and added that Pistorius could “never ever” imagine that Steenkamp would be behind the closed door.
“He is a person that is down-and-out, he is broken. … There is nothing left of this man. But it’s far worse than that,” Roux reportedly said. “He lost a person he loved, his self-respect, most of his friends, his career, all his properties, all his money. He’s lost everything. Is this a person you must remove from society? … We say no.”
Roux said that Pistorius had shown remorse and had suffered enough since he shot Steenkamp. He also said that the money offered to Steenkamp’s parents by the sprinter was a sincere gesture, which showed that he was ready to take responsibility for his actions.
Pistorius was acquitted of a more serious charge of premeditated murder and was found not guilty of a charge of illegal possession of ammunition, as well as another count of discharging a firearm in public in a separate incident.
“We shouldn’t fail the parents. We shouldn’t fail society. Society may lose its trust in the court,” Nel said.