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Oscar Pistorius should be put behind bars says victim's cousin

17 Oct 2014, 13:56 IST
Oscar Pistorius

Pretoria, Oct 16 (IANS/EFE) A cousin of murdered model Reeva Steenkamp demanded a stiff prison sentence for South African Paralympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who was convicted last month of manslaughter for shooting Steenkamp to death. At Thursday's session of Pistorius's sentencing hearing, Steenkamp's cousin Kim Martin said she believed that anyone who fired a gun through a closed door at an unarmed person should receive the appropriate punishment.

Pistorius has said he could not remember firing four shots at his girlfriend in their Pretoria residence Feb 14, 2013, but claimed he was acting in the belief that there was an intruder in the house. Martin added that she did not think Pistorius would receive inhumane treatment in prison.

Pistorius's legal team called witnesses who claimed South African prisons were not equipped to confine people with disabilities like Pistorius, who had his legs amputated due to a genetic disease when he was 11 months old.

Under South African law, Pistorius's sentence, which would probably be issued Friday, can range anywhere from a fine to a maximum 15-year jail term that could likely be suspended.

Announcing her verdict Sep 12, Justice Thokozile Masipa, ruled out convicting Pistorius of murder. She mostly gave credence to Pistorius's story about believing that a thief was in the house on the night of the shooting.

The prosecution, however, charged that Pistorius dealt with the perceived threat with gross negligence and could instead have acted in a way that would have left Steenkamp alive such as shouting for help or threatening the "intruder" with his drawn gun.

Steenkamp was 29 years old at the time of her death. Pistorius enjoyed great fame in the 2012 London Olympics, when he became the first sprinter in history with artificial limbs to take part in the Olympic Games.

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