Oscar Pistorius sentenced to five years in prison
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP): Oscar Pistorius was taken away in a police van with barred windows yesterday to start serving a five-year prison sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Delivering her sentence, Judge Thokozile Masipa cited the "gross negligence" the double-amputee Olympic runner showed when he shot Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home.
Pistorius, who cried and retched during his murder trial, was unemotional as he stood to hear his sentence. His prison term begins immediately and he was led by police down a flight of stairs to holding cells before leaving the courthouse in the armoured vehicle.
The world-famous runner later arrived at the nearby Kgosi Mampuru II prison in the South African capital, a facility that has had problems with violence and overcrowding and where, during the years of apartheid, death-row inmates were executed before capital punishment was outlawed with the advent of democracy.
Despite the prison's reported problems, authorities have said Pistorius would be held away from the general prison population because of his disability and high profile - possibly in a hospital wing or a high-security section.
Pistorius could be released after 10 months to serve the remainder under house arrest, according to legal experts. Masipa last month convicted Pistorius of culpable homicide, or negligent killing, but acquitted him of murder after he testified he mistook Steenkamp for a night time intruder.
Steenkamp's parents were in court to hear the sentence and the dead model's mother, June, said justice had been done. A close friend of Steenkamp, Gina Myers, said: "I really don't think any of us will heal anytime soon ... there will always be questions."
Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius, appealed to reporters to give the family privacy after what he called "20 months of relentless public trial". He criticised prosecutors for pursuing a premeditated murder charge against Pistorius, and said "they decided to inflict as much collateral damage as they could". He said Pistorius' family accepted the sentence.
"Oscar will embrace this opportunity to pay back to society," Arnold Pistorius said.
Judge Masipa earlier described the sentencing as a balancing act between retribution and clemency.