As the Oscar Pistorius trial nears its end, the judge in the case ruled that Oscar is not guilty of premeditated murder and neither is he guilty of murder. This came out as Judge Thokozile Masipa read out her more than a hundred pages of her verdict in North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria following the six month long trial which sieved through more than thirty witnesses.
Oscar Pistorius, a world record holding paralympian, stands accused of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp in the morning of Valentine’s Day in 2013. The prosecution led by veteran advocate, Gerry Nel, contends that the couple had been having problems in their relationship, which culminated in the big argument on the fateful night. They further argue that in a fit of rage, Oscar took one of his many guns to a scared Reeva, who was cowering in the bathroom. He is said to have fired four bullets through the door of the bathroom. Three of these bullets are said to have been responsible for the demise of the former law student. The defence, led by theatric lawyer, Barry Roux, argue against this and, in their turn that it was a case of mistaken identity since Oscar believed that an intruder was in the bathroom and was preparing to attack him and his girlfriend. Faced with a choice between fight and flight, his team argues, he chose fight.
Passing her judgement, Judge Thokozile Masipa spent some time attacking the human evidence, or witnesses in the case, saying that they had shown themselves to be unreliable and inconsistent. She spent some time attacking the witnesses that had ‘heard’ Reeva scream, saying that Reeva was not in a state in which she could have screamed. In what must surely have brought relief to the defence team, Judge Masipa concurred with them in that the carrying of a firearm did not necessarily translate into an intention to kill even though she added, rather humorously that he was obviously not intending to hit the other person on the head with the gun. She, however found it strange that Oscar did not find it necessary to ascertain the whereabouts of Reeva before starting the shooting. She also found it significant that he had fired the gun four times instead of only once. She went on to blame the prosecution for failing to provide enough proof that Oscar knew that he could cause the death of the person behind the door. Another feather in Oscar’s hat was that, according to witnesses, he was evidently genuinely distraught. In addition, he had told more or less the same story about what had happened without any major contradictions. She therefore concluded that the double amputee could neither be charged with murder nor premeditated murder. It remains to be seen if he will be able to escape that of culpable homicide or manslaughter as it is known in other countries. The judgement continues on Friday.