Bloemfontein (South Africa): South African Supreme Court judge Eric Leach, while reading out his 53-minute judgment convicting Oscar Pistorius for murder, praised trial court judge Thokozile Masipa for the way she handled the trial, especially considering the "glare of international attention."
Judge Thokozile Masipa
But the judgment itself shredded judge Masipa's reasoning over what in SA law, is called dolus eventualis, according to which a person can be convicted of murder if he foresaw the possibility of his actions resulting in the death of someone but continued regardless.
During the original trial in September 2014, judge Masipa had ruled that the state failed to prove that Pistorius knew his action would kill, specifically, Reeva Steenkamp. Based on this reasoning, she convicted Pistorius of manslaughter.
Yesterday, Justice Leach said Pistorius should have known anyone who was on the other side of the bathroom door would have been killed, regardless of who it might have been.
Judge Masipa came under tremendous criticism for her interpretation at that time. And even now, critics don't think Pistorius will get a long sentence.
Because according to SA law, it is now judge Masipa again who will fix his sentence. Understandably, her critics and Steenkamp's supporters are skeptical she will give him even the minimum 15 years mandated for murder. As per law, if there are "compelling factors", judge Masipa is free to award him a lesser term.