Oscar Pistorius Trial: Murder Verdicts Ruled Out. Not Out Of The Woods .


Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius

The judge in the Oscar Pistorius trial has cleared him of murder, but has left it to

Judge Thokozile Masipa

Judge Thokozile Masipa

Friday to announce whether the athlete is guilty of culpable homicide. Judge Thokozile Masipa said prosecutors had not proved he meant to kill his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, prompting tears from the Olympic sprinter. But she said he acted hastily and had been negligent. Mr Pistorius says he thought an intruder was in the toilet. Adjourning the trial, the judge said a reasonable person would not have fired. The BBC’s Andrew Harding, who was in court in Pretoria, says she is expected to deliver a verdict of culpable homicide (manslaughter) but has not yet spelled it out. Earlier, Judge Masipa described Mr Pistorius as an evasive witness but said this did not mean he was guilty.

Clearing him of murder charges, she said he could not have foreseen killing whoever was behind the toilet door.

The South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter had denied murdering Ms Steenkamp after a row on Valentine’s Day last year, saying he shot her by mistake. Mr Pistorius, 27, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges

Reeva Steenkamp

Reeva Steenkamp

he faces, including two counts of shooting a firearm in public and the illegal possession of ammunition. While finding Oscar Pistorius not guilty of murder, Judge Masipa appears to be leaning towards the lesser charge of manslaughter, known in South Africa as culpable homicide. Minutes after the lunch break, she seemed to be on the verge of announcing her verdict, only to stop abruptly and adjourn until Friday – leading to sighs and gasps in the overflow court. Judge Masipa didn’t mince her words when she said the athlete, who has a good knowledge of guns, acted negligently by firing four shots into a confined space. She questioned why he did not phone for help or run to the balcony instead of confronting the apparent danger – questions that have plagued many. Following a long trial that has gripped people around the world, Judge Masipa seems to want to give a detailed account before announcing her verdict. South Africa’s legal system has also been on trial and many believe the athlete is getting off lightly, possibly because of his fame. But legal experts argue that the judge has merely followed the law and the evidence before her. The onus was on the state to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, which the judge said it had failed to do.