Oscar Pistorius Should Get 10 Years in Jail, Demands Prosecution

After hearing final arguments from both the defence and prosecution, Judge Thokozile Masipa scheduled sentencing for next Tuesday.

Updated: October 17, 2014 18:52 IST
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Oscar Pistorius trial
File Photo: Oscar Pistorius leaves the Pretoria High Court.

© AP

Johannesburg: Oscar Pistorius should be jailed for at least 10 years for killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the prosecution said Friday as the star sprinter's sensational trial approached its climax.

Slapping down defence claims that the "broke and broken" Paralympic and Olympic athlete had already suffered enough, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said "the minimum that society will be happy with is 10 years imprisonment."

After hearing final arguments from both the defence and prosecution, Judge Thokozile Masipa scheduled sentencing for next Tuesday.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux said Pistorius was not a "cold-blooded killer" and should serve a community-based sentence similar to house arrest without any time in South Africa's tough prisons.

The defence has suggested that Pistorius's punishment could include cleaning a museum for 16 hours a month.

Prosecutor Nel described the suggestion as "shockingly disproportionate".

"Go home, stay in a luxurious house ... and he will not leave his house except if he wants to train, work, go to a doctor -- that's what we do every day," said Nel.

He said the "softly spoken words" of Steenkamp's cousin Kim Martin, who pleaded with the court to "make Mr Pistorius pay" for what he had done, "trounces" any other testimony.

Pistorius, 27, admitted killing Steenkamp by firing four shots through a locked toilet door in his upmarket Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year, but said he believed she was an intruder.

The prosecution pressed hard for a conviction for murder, charging that Pistorius's claim was improbable and that he had killed the photogenic 29-year-old law graduate after an argument.

But Judge Masipa acquitted him of murder -- provoking widespread controversy -- and found him guilty of culpable homicide, for which he could be sentenced to anything from a fine to 15 years in jail.

Pistorius wept in the dock as his lawyer said he had already suffered enough for killing Steenkamp, describing the double-amputee sprinter's devastating fall from disabled icon and sporting stardom to a loathed criminal.

"He's lost everything, he was an icon in the eyes of South Africa," said Roux in a last-ditch bid to keep Pistorious out of jail.

Roux said Pistorius had also lost the woman he loved, "most of his friends" and "all of his immovable properties".

"He was denigrated to the extent that all that was left was a rage killer, a cold-blooded killer, and everything that was horrible," said Roux, describing Pistorius as a "victim" of unprecedented malicious media attention.

The trial has been broadcast live around the world, taking on elements of both a soap opera and a reality TV show.

Roux said Pistorius was genuinely remorseful for accidentally killing the woman he loved and would suffer from this for the rest of his life.

- Victim of 'trauma' -

"The punishment of the accused immediately commenced after the incident," said Roux, arguing the "trauma" Pistorius has suffered since shooting Steenkamp is "far more severe than any other criminal punishment".

Pistorius has argued he is a perfect candidate for house arrest because he is a first-time offender, needs specialised physical and psychological care that he cannot receive in prison, and is tormented by remorse.

Prosecutor Nel questioned why a man who had fought for and won the right to compete against able-bodied athletes now argued that his disability should play a significant role in his sentencing.

Acting correctional services commissioner Zach Modise testified that South African prisons are able to provide the specialized physical and psychological care Pistorius needs for his rehabilitation.

Whatever sentence the athlete receives, his lucrative sporting career is forever tarnished, with all of his major sponsors cancelling his contracts.

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