Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius on House Arrest

Earlier this week the former Olympian Oscar Pistorius was released from prison after serving just one year of his five year sentence. Oscar Pistorius made history when he competed in the London 2012 Olympics as an amputee sprinter running on carbon fiber prosthetic legs, earning him the nickname “Blade Runner”.

In October 2014, a South African Judge found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide, which is basically the same thing as manslaughter in the United States, and sentenced him to five years in prison.  While he was acquitted of murder, Pistorius was found to have killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day in 2013. His defense successfully argued that Pistorius thought that it was an intruder in the bathroom, not Ms. Steenhamp. Pursuant to South African law, Pistorius applied for house arrest after serving 10 months in prison. His request was granted, and this past Monday Pistorius was “released from prison to serve the rest of his five year sentence under house arrest.”

Back in June, the South African Supreme Court of Appeal announced that they will hear “the prosecutions’ appeal against Pistorius’s acquittal” on the murder charge early this November. At the appeal, Pistorius faces a minimum of 15 years in prison if the Court convicts him of murder. In the mean time, Pistorius will continue serving his sentence at his uncle’s home in Waterkloof. “The house is a three-storey converted Dutch Reformed church on a luxury estate, and has a swimming pool.”

South African law prevents the prosecutors’ from arguing that the  judge’s factual findings were incorrect. Instead, they will argue that “that Judge Thokozile Masipa was mistaken in her application of the law when she convicted Pistorius last year and that a different court could reach a different decision – namely that Pistorius should have been convicted of murder, not culpable homicide.” The appellate judges will have to examine the definitions of murder and culpable homicide in order to make a decision.  Many believe that the prosecutors bringing the appeal have a strong case that Pistorius committee murder, not culpable homicide. For instance, the fact that Pistorious fired four shots into the closed bathroom door is a persuasive argument for murder to some.

Until a verdict is reached in the appeal, Pistorious will continue living at his uncle’s mansion.

Sara Montgomery, Staff Editor

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