South African runner Oscar Pistorius, 27, will learn his sentence Tuesday, nearly seven months after going on trial for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Judge Thokozile Masipa will announce the punishment in the High Court in Pretoria, sentence that prosecutors argued should be 10 years in prison.
The Olympic and Paralympic runner was convicted of culpable homicide last month for shooting dead 29-year-old law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria in February 2013.
Judge Masipa is expected to take no longer than an hour to hand down the sentence. The cleared Pistorius of the more serious charge of murder, saying prosecutors had failed to prove his intent to kill when he fired four 9mm rounds through the door of a toilet cubicle in what he said was the mistaken belief an intruder was lurking behind it.
Oscar Pistorius’ siblings have criticised media coverage of his trial, on the eve of the South African athlete’s sentencing. Aimee and Carl Pistorius said they were anxious ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, and that the truth had been “twisted and manipulated” and “sensationalised”.
Speaking to South African broadcaster eNCA, Aimee Pistorius said there was “obviously a lot of anxiety” ahead of the sentencing, and that the last 20 months had been “very taxing”.
She said she felt “heartache for both my brother, our family and of course Steenkamp’s family and her friends”, adding that both families would struggle to move on.
“It’s something that you never really get closure on… It’s something that my brother will carry with him for the rest of his life.
“It is important for us that [Ms Steenkamp’s family] know that she was very much cared for and loved, and accepted as part of our family in the short time that she was with us… [Reeva] had a wonderful charisma and zest for life that she just exuded and it was easy to just fall in love with her.”
Defence lawyer Barry Roux said, however, that the double-amputee sprinter should be given community service because his sorrow and regret at being killing the woman he loved was the worst punishment of all.
He also said Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated as a baby, would face particular difficulties in prison.
The 27-year-old sprinter, known as ‘Blade Runner’ because of the carbon-fibre prosthetics he made famous at the London 2012 Olympics, could also be given a suspended sentence or house arrest.