Pretoria: Oscar Pistorius should be jailed for at least 10 years for killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the prosecution said Friday as the star sprinter's sensational trial approached its climax.
Slapping down defence claims that the "broke and broken" Paralympic and Olympic athlete had already suffered enough, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said "the minimum that society will be happy with is 10 years imprisonment." After hearing final arguments from both the defence and prosecution, Judge Thokozile Masipa scheduled sentencing for next Tuesday.
Defence lawyer Barry Roux said Pistorius was not a "cold-blooded killer" and should serve a community-based sentence without any prison time. Nel described the suggestion as "shockingly disproportionate". "Go home, stay in a luxurious house where he's staying at the moment... and he will not leave his house except if he wants to train, work, go to a doctor -- that's what we do every day," said Nel. Nel said the "softly spoken words" of Steenkamp's cousin Kim Martin, who pleaded with the court to "make Mr Pistorius pay" for what he had done, "trounces" any other testimony.
Pistorius, 27, was cleared of murdering Steenkamp by firing four shots through a locked toilet door in his upmarket Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year, but found guilty of culpable homicide, for which he could be sentenced to anything from a fine to 15 years in jail.
Earlier, Pistorius wept in the dock as his lawyer said he had already suffered enough for killing Steenkamp, describing the double-amputee sprinter's devastating fall from disabled icon and sporting stardom to a loathed criminal. "He's lost everything, he was an icon in the eyes of South Africa," said Roux in a last-ditch bid to keep Pistorious out of jail.
Roux said Pistorius had also lost the woman he loved, "most of his friends" and "all of his immovable properties". "He was denigrated to the extent that all that was left was a rage killer, a cold-blooded killer, and everything that was horrible," said Roux, describing Pistorius as a "victim" of unprecedented malicious media attention.
The trial has been broadcast live around the world, taking on elements of both a soap opera and a reality TV show. Roux said Pistorius was genuinely remorseful for accidentally killing the woman he loved and would suffer from this for the rest of his life.
Citing "Ubuntu" -- an African principle of humanity that is an important pillar of South Africa's post-apartheid legal system -- Roux said the only suitable penalty for Pistorius would be a community-based sentence. - Victim of 'trauma' - "The punishment of the accused immediately commenced after the incident," said Roux, arguing the "trauma" Pistorius has suffered since shooting Steenkamp is "far more severe than any other criminal punishment".
Roux said Pistorius never intended to shoot the 29-year-old law graduate four times through a locked toilet door in his upmarket Pretoria home, arguing that the excessive force was a result of the double amputee's feeling of vulnerability in the face of what he thought was an intruder. Pistorius has argued he is a perfect candidate for house arrest because he is a first-time offender, needs specialised physical and psychological care that he cannot receive in prison, and is tormented by remorse.