Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius.jpg
Photograph: EPA/SIPHIWE SIBEKO/POOL

Double-amputee Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius was sentenced on Wednesday to six years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his Pretoria home in 2013.

"The mitigating circumstances outweigh the aggravating factors," said judge Thokozile Masipa, whose sentence was far below what had been expected.

The normal minimum murder sentence for a first-time offender is 15 years, and most experts had expected the 29-year-old athlete to get at least 10 years.

Pistorius fired four shots at Steenkamp through a toilet door in his home on February 14, 2013.

Just before she announced the sentence, the judge said: "Nothing that this court will do or say today will bring back the life of the deceased."

She added: "The life of the accused will also never be the same. He's a fallen hero who has lost his career."

During his trial from March 2014 to the following September, Pistorius said he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar, while the prosecution argued that he killed her after a quarrel.

Masipa accepted his version and sentenced him to five years for manslaughter. But in December 2015, the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned the manslaughter verdict for murder, and Masipa had to issue a new sentence.

Weighing the aggravating and mitigating factors in her sentence, Masipa noted that "the accused used a lethal weapon, a high-calibre firearm ... and fired not one, but four, shots into the toilet door, knowing there was someone behind."

However, the athlete was not wearing his prosthesis and "felt vulnerable" in the presence of the imaginary intruder, according to the judge.

His shock at finding the wounded Steenkamp in the toilet and his frantic attempts to save her life showed he did not kill her on purpose, Masipa said.

Pistorius had also shown genuine remorse by making repeated attempts to meet Steenkamp's parents, who did not want to see him, according to the judge.

"Although a custodial sentence is a proper sentence I am of the opinion that a long-term sentence will not serve justice in this matter," she said.

Pistorius was a first-time offender, unlikely to reoffend, a good candidate for rehabilitation and had already served a year in prison, Masipa argued.

The judge said she was aware there was a widespread public perception that Pistorius had knowingly killed Steenkamp.

"Our courts are courts of law, not of public opinion," she said.

Latest news

S Africa opposition sues government for not arresting Sudan president

South Africa’s main opposition party Friday filed criminal charges against several government and police officials for failing in 2015 to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Project Slavonia one of key government goals, PM says

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Friday opened the 22nd international fair of the economy, trades and crafts and agriculture Viroexpo 2017, saying it fit into one of the government's key goals, work on Project Slavonia.

Germany says Russia plan for Reichstag replica 'speaks for itself'

A Russian plan to construct a replica of the Reichstag so that military enthusiasts can re-enact the Red Army's 1945 capture of Berlin is "surprising and speaks for itself," a German government spokeswoman said Friday.

Transport minister does not rule out higher motorway tolls

Commenting on a planned rise in tolls for motorways managed by the state-run HAC motorway operator, Maritime, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butkovic on Friday recalled that HAC's debt totalled EUR 5.2 billion, and 1.2 billion of that amount was due this year, which HAC could not pay back from its revenues.

Proposal to give advantage to jobseekers who served in army slammed

Labour and Pension System Minister Tomislav Coric said on Friday the proposal by HVIDRA veterans association president Josip Djakic, that persons who served in the army should be given preferential treatment while seeking for jobs in the state administration and state-owned companies, was not good.

Film directors, producers pleased with meeting with presidential advisers

Representatives of the Croatian Film Directors’ Guild and the Croatian Producers Association said on Friday they were pleased with today's meeting at the president's office, where they discussed the current developments with the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) with two presidential advisers.

German foreign minister: Positive Trump comment on EU is 'good news'

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomes US President Donald Trump's recent positive comments on the European Union, calling them "good news," during a press conference Friday.

South African police disperse anti-migrant rally

South African police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse anti-immigration demonstrators and their opponents in the country’s administrative capital of Pretoria, local media reported Friday.

Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian reporters back striking Macedonian colleagues

Trade unions of journalists from Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia on Friday expressed their support to their Macedonian colleagues working for three daily newspapers owned by Media Print Makedonija (MPM) who have been on strike since mid-February over unpaid salaries and contributions and the management's failure to provide them with information about plans for the company's survival.

Hribar's statements prompt HRT Supervisory Board to demand human rights' protection

The Croatian Radio and Television (HRT) Programming Council is scheduled to convene on Tuesday, 28 February, to discuss, among other things, "the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms in HRT programmes" as requested by the national broadcaster's Supervisory Board.

Iraq launches its first airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria

Iraq launched its first airstrikes against Islamic State targets inside Syria on Friday, retaliation for recent deadly attacks by the extremist militia in Baghdad, the Iraqi army said.

SDP urges gov't to put situation in Bosnia on EU and NATO agendas

Croatia's largest opposition party has called on the government to put the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the EU and NATO agendas saying that reactions by some political groups in that country to the submission of the motion to the ICJ to review its ruling against Serbia could lead to serious political instability and threaten the functioning of the state.