Trial against paralympics star pistorius: murder ruled out

The verdict in the trial against Oscar Pistorius is dragging on. After the first day it is clear: He did not kill his girlfriend intentionally.

Tears of grief or relief? Pistorius at the pronouncement of the verdict. Image: reuters

Paralympics star Oscar Pistorius was acquitted of premeditated murder charges by a South African court on Thursday. Judge Thokozile Masipa, in her reading of the verdict in the High Court in Pretoria, said the track star did not deliberately shoot his 29-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last February: "There is too little evidence to sustain the state’s charge of premeditated murder beyond reasonable doubt."

That is not the end of the matter, however, as manslaughter is an appropriate sentence, the judge indicated. She plans to announce the verdict today, Friday. "There are simply not enough facts for a premeditated murder," Masipa said. Shortly after, the 27-year-old former star of the South African sports world slumped in tears in the courtroom.

The disabled athlete, revered as a "blade runner" in South Africa, had killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his luxury Pretoria home at night on Valentine’s Day 2013 with four shots through the locked bathroom door. Judge Masipa now questioned in court Thursday why Pistorius fired four shots on the fateful night. She explained that the accused had not been honest in court. Expressing what many people in South Africa felt during the months-long court process, Masipa said, "He was a bad witness and contradicted himself several times."

Pistorius had often been very emotional in court and had not listened properly during cross-examination when he was asked by the prosecutor on the witness stand about the circumstances of his crime. Some of the statements he made about the events of the night of the murder did not make sense.

Oscar Pistorius had stated in his defense that he had felt threatened and believed at the time that he was shooting at a burglar.

The judge showed understanding for the statement that someone in his situation as a leg amputee had felt insecure and threatened. However, in her reasoning for the verdict, she assumes that Pistorius was mentally capable of deciding between "right" and "wrong" at the moment of the horrific act. The sentence is now to be announced on Friday.