Oscar Pistorius not guilty of murder

Oscar Pistorius & girlfriend

Oscar Pistorius has been found not guilty of murder – but he still faces a charge of culpable homicide.

The Paralympian’s murder case was adjourned today (11.09.14) in Pretoria, South Africa, after judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that he did not murder his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, in his home in February last year when he shot her dead.Pistorius, 27, does still face a charge of culpable homicide, which is akin to manslaughter in British law, and while there is no prescribed sentence for the charge in South African law, it is being reported he would face anything from a fine to a lengthy prison sentence if he is found guilty.Speaking about the culpable homicide charge in court, judge Masipa said: “He acted too hastily and used excessive force. In the circumstance it is clear that his conduct was negligent.”

Earlier in the summing up, the judge rejected the charge of premeditated and second degree murder against the sportsman.

She said: “In the present case the accused is the only person who can say what his state of mind was when he fired the shots that killed the deceased.

“How could the accused have reasonably foreseen the shot he fired would have killed the deceased? Clearly he did not subjectively foresee this, that he would have killed the person behind the door, let alone the deceased.”

But she did say he acted “unlawfully”, explaining: “There is no doubt that when the accused fired shots at the door he acted unlawfully.”

During her summing up, the judge also said “most witnesses got their facts wrong” and added: “It would be unwise to rely on any evidence from the witnesses.”

Instead of relying on the evidence of the 37 witnesses called during the length case, the judge told the court that technological evidence, such as phone messages from the pair’s devices and calls to security, was relied on.

Pistorius – who is known as ‘Blade Runner’ – was seen looking down and crying during part of the summing up and as the judge rejected the charge of premeditated murder he was seen sobbing quietly.

The athlete has always insisted he was innocent, pleading not guilty to murder and three separate firearm charges, and claiming he had accidentally fired the gun at the model as he acted in self-defence in the mistaken belief she was an intruder.

The prosecution had previously claimed Pistorius had killed the blonde beauty following a huge argument.

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel previously urged judge Thokozile to dismiss Pistorius’ account of events as they were “devoid of any truth” and to convict him of pre-meditated murder.

In June, Pistorius was declared fit to stand trial after his case was put on hold from May while he underwent a medical evaluation.

Four appointed psychiatrists had to decide whether he was “capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act” or “criminally responsible” for his behaviour at the time of the shooting.

Both prosecution and defence lawyers accepted the findings and the trial resumed.

The paralympian shot to fame in South Africa after winning a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games in the 200 metres. He also went on to add five other gold medals to his collection in the 2008 Games in Beijing and at London 2012.

The trial continues tomorrow (12.09.14).

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