South African athlete, Oscar Pistorius, guilty of culpable homicide

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South African Paralympian gold medallist, Oscar Pictorius, has been found guilty of culpable homicide after Judge Thokozile Masipa accepted his claim of killing girlfriend Reeva Steekamp by mistake.

Pistorius was also found guilty of negligently handling a firearm that went off in a restaurant in a separate incident.

The judge had on Thursday cleared Pistorius of murder, the most serious of four charges he faced in a trial lasting months.

She said the state had failed to prove he intended to kill Reeva Steenkamp.

Steenkamp was shot dead by Pistorius at his Pretoria home on the eve of the 2013 Valentine’s Day. The athlete maintains the shooting was in error as he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

The state accused Pistorius of lying and pressed for his conviction for murder.

Judge Masipa ruled Thursday that there is no evidence supporting premeditated murder, but said there could be grounds for culpable homicide.

In her ruling Friday, she said Pistorius acted “negligently” when he fired shots through a toilet door in the “belief that there was an intruder”.

Culpable homicide means there was no intention to kill a person, but the actions were negligent.

“The accused acted too hastily and used excessive force,” she said. “It is clear that his conduct was negligent.”

He has however not been sentenced. But the sentence for culpable homicide is a maximum of 15 years in jail although experts believe seven to 10 years is more likely.

The firearms verdict also attracts several years in jail.

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