Pistorius should serve at least 10 years in prison: prosecutor

Fri Oct 17, 2014 8:06am EDT
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By Lynette Ndabambi

PRETORIA (Reuters) - Prosecutors called on Friday for South African Olympic and Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius to be jailed for at least 10 years for killing his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year, and sentencing in his sensational trial was set for Tuesday.

Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated as a baby and who was long admired as an inspiration for disabled people, was convicted of culpable homicide last month for the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old law graduate and model, at his luxury home. Pistorius said he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

"The minimum term that society will be happy with will be 10 years imprisonment," chief state prosecutor Gerrie Nel said at the close of a five-day sentencing hearing in Pretoria.

"This is a serious matter. The negligence borders on intent. Ten years is the minimum," Nel told the court.

Judge Thokozile Masipa is to sentence the 27-year-old Pistorius on Tuesday, ending a six-month trial that has been televised from start to finish, captivating millions around the world.

The defense and prosecution teams spent much of the hearing arguing over whether Pistorius should go to jail or be punished with a suspended sentence, house arrest or community service. Legal experts are split on the likely outcome.

A non-custodial sentence would be likely to spark public anger, fuelling a perception among black South Africans that, 20 years after the end of white-minority apartheid rule, wealthy whites can still secure preferential justice. Masipa is only the second black female judge in South Africa.

"We shouldn't fail the parents. We shouldn't fail society. Society may lose its trust in the court," Nel said.   Continued...

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attends his sentencing hearing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria October 17, 2014. REUTERS/Mujahid Safodien