Pretoria: South African track star Oscar Pistorius should serve at least 10 years in prison for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine`s Day last year, the state prosecutor said at the close of the athlete`s sentencing hearing on Friday.
Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned the session until Tuesday, when she is expected to sentence Pistorius and end a six-month, on-off trial that has captivated millions worldwide.
The 27-year-old Paralympic and Olympic athlete, whose lower legs were amputated as a baby, was convicted of culpable homicide last month for the shooting of 29-year-old law graduate and model Steenkamp.
"The minimum term that society will be happy with will be 10 years imprisonment," chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the hearing. "This is a serious matter. The negligence borders on intent. Ten years is the minimum."
The defence and prosecution teams have spent much of the five-day sentencing hearing arguing over whether Pistorius should go to jail or be punished with house arrest and 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.
Defence attorney Barry Roux earlier said the double-amputee sprinter should be given community service because he had shown remorse and had been punished enough since he shot dead Steenkamp through a toilet door in his Pretoria apartment. Pistorius said he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.
"He wants to make good as far as possible. Serious regard should be given to a community-based sentence so something good can come out of this," Roux said.