• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Key issues from the Oscar pistorius trial


Oscar Pistorius has been cleared of the murder of girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Judge Thokozile Masipa said the evidence had failed to establish the accused had direct intention or premeditation – needed for the most serious charge of premeditated murder. She also said evidence did not support the state’s claim of dolus eventualis – or second degree murder.

Legal experts have said the state could question a ruling by the South African judge in the case of Oscar Pistorius, who was sensationally cleared of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Recaping on the arguments made by defence lawyer, Barry Roux and prosecutor Gerrie Nel, the judge noted that if the prosecution was so concerned that Pistorius had sold his properties, then it would have investigated the matter long ago and brought it to the court’s attention. She therefore granted the defence’s bail application, and adjourned to October 13, 2014.

She gave a detailed legal explanation of why she acquitted Pistorius of murder, dolus eventualis – a decision which has received some criticism from legal experts since Thursday.

Stephen Tuson, a law professor at Johannesburg’s University of Witwatersrand, said the state would arguably be able to appeal on dolus eventualis (which is Latin for ‘indirect intent’). ‘How can you shoot four bullets through a door and not foresee their death?’, he told Bloomberg News. Arguably, there’s a possibility of an appeal by the state if they believe that she [Masipa] erred on a question of law.’

Meanwhile, Professor James Grant, of the same university, said: ‘The problem is that Masipa has found that he did not intend to kill but that is not the question and it was not his defence,’ he said.

The fact that the decision to find Pistorius not guilty of murder was reached by a black female judge, who has been outspoken about violence against women and handed down hefty sentences for such crimes, has added to the shock in South Africa. More than 1,000 South African women die every year at the hands of their lovers – ‘intimate femicide’ is the country’s most common cause of female deaths.