Oscar Pistorius: State will ask for harshest sentence

2014-10-13 09:58

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As sentencing procedures get under way in the Oscar Pistorius trial in the North Gauteng High Court today, Pistorius’ lawyer Barry Roux has indicated that the defence will be calling at least three, maybe four, witnesses.

The prosecution’s Gerrie Nel has said that they will be calling at least two.

When Judge Masipa asked Nel if he thought they would be able to wrap things up within a week, he replied: “I hope so.”

The first witness for the defence is Oscar Pistorius’ personal psychologist, Dr Lore Hartzenberg, who will not be shown on TV.

Dr Hartzenberg has been present at various points in the trial to comfort Pistorius.

The state will argue that Paralympian Oscar Pistorius must get the maximum sentence for culpable homicide.

“Our duty is to make sure ... we ask for the harshest sentence possible,” National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Nathi Mncube said outside court.

He said the state would argue for a sentence that fit the severity of the crime.

Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide on September 12 for the Valentine’s Day 2013 shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

“He was convicted of culpable homicide, somebody lost a life and we think that deserves the harshest sentence,” said Mncube.

“We do not decide what is the appropriate sentence ... Our responsibility is to argue for a harsh sentence.

“The Minimum Sentencing Act does not apply to culpable homicide, so there is no minimum or maximum sentence. It can vary from a suspended sentence to a fine to imprisonment. Only the judge can decide.”

The state prepared a victim impact statement on how the case affected family members and the friends, he said.

Mncube said the defence and state could either call witnesses or go straight into arguments. They would be allowed to cross-examine witnesses.

He said it would be unethical at this point to comment on whether the state would appeal the judgment or not.

“We have to wait until the sentence is handed down,” he said.

Barry and June Steenkamp, Reeva’s parents, arrived at court this morning. So did some of Steenkamp’s friends.

On September 12, Judge Thokozile Masipa said that there was no basis for the court to make the inference that Pistorius wanted to kill Steenkamp.

She said evidence showed that Pistorius acted negligently when he fired into the toilet door knowing there was someone behind it.

With regard to firearms-related charges, Masipa found Pistorius guilty of firing a Glock pistol belonging to his friend Darren Fresco under a table at Tashas restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013.

However, she found him not guilty of shooting through the open sunroof of a car with his 9mm pistol while driving with Fresco and ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor in Modderfontein on September 30 2012.

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