New Delhi: In the high profile murder trial of fallen paralympic hero Oscar Pistorius, closing arguments will be entered by both the defence and prosecution in the High Court in Pretoria today. It's speculated that Judge Thokozile Masipa will deliver her verdict on Tuesday. The State called its final witness on trial on yesterday.
The court heard from six witnesses, including Pistorius's personal psychiatrist, Reeva Steenkamp's cousin and the head of South Africa's Department of Correctional Services.
Before the sentencing, Under South Africa's guidelines, Judge Masipa will consider the seriousness of offences and the personal circumstances of the offender, besides public interest which all could impact the severity of the sentence.
Pistorius, 27, returned to court on Monday with the start of sentencing hearing after he was convicted of culpable homicide in the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The double-amputee track star last month escaped a murder conviction in a verdict that shocked the country and fuelled criticism of South Africa`s legal system.
This week, the court began hearing defence witnesses testify on why Pistorius should not serve time behind bars, with the athlete's lawyers arguing for leniency. And they are likely to continue with the argument that the country`s prisons are not suited for his disability and that the 2012 London Paralympics silver medallist is a first time offender. Earlier, the defence lawyers have played the card of "remorsefulness" after killing his girlfriend.
Known as the "Blade Runner" in the sporting circle, Pistorius could face as much as 15 years in one of South Africa`s notoriously brutal prisons or could dodge a jail term altogether with a non-custodial sentence after being found guilty of a manslaughter charge, but not guilty of premeditated murder.
In September, Judge Masipa ruled that Pistorius did not knowingly shoot to kill 29-year-old model and law graduate Steenkamp on Valentine`s Day 2013. The sprinter admitted he fired four hollow point bullets through a locked toilet door in his upmarket Pretoria home, but said he believed he had been shooting at a burglar.
Masipa`s ruling outraged many South Africans, including lawyers who believed she misinterpreted the definition of murder and questioned whether the justice system is failing the crime-plagued country.
Pistorius is currently out on bail of one million rand ($90,000). It is reported that, he had sold his posh house inside a gated compound in Pretoria, the scene of the crime, to fund the cost of the trial, and has withdrawn from competitive sport since his arrest.
The trial which began on March 3 was broadcast live on television and radio, feeding insatiable local and international media interest.
With agency inputs