Oscar Pistorius sentencing: Prosecution scrutinizes athlete’s charity work
Oscar Pistorius’ charity work has been scrutinized by the prosecution on a second day of his sentencing hearing in Pretoria court.
The South African athlete’s main motive was to further his career, the prosecutor said, in an attempt to show he deserves jail for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Oscar Pistorius, 27, was found guilty of the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp last month – but was cleared of murder.
The defense is trying to show prison would be an inappropriate punishment.
It produced a second witness to say Oscar Pistorius showed real remorse and his disability would be a problem in jail.
On October 13, the prosecutor was angered by a call for the sentence to be house arrest and community service.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel labeled the suggestion as a “shockingly inappropriate” punishment.
Oscar Pistorius faces up to 15 years in jail, although Judge Thokozile Masipa may suspend the sentence or impose a fine.
Judge Thokozile Masipa said Oscar Pistorius had acted negligently when he shot his girlfriend through a toilet door, but had genuinely thought her to be an intruder.
The sentencing hearing is expected to last several days, with lawyers for Oscar Pistorius hoping they can prevent a jail sentence.
Proceedings began with Gerrie Nel’s cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius’ manager Peet Van Zyl.
At Tuesday morning’s session, Gerrie Nel tried to show that Oscar Pistorius’ honorary doctorate at the UK’s Strathclyde University was for his achievements “from a young age”, rather than recent charitable work.
Peet Van Zyl had said that the doctorate was for the athlete’s support for prosthetic limb development, but Gerrie Nel said there was no mention of that in the citation.
And he suggested to Peet Van Zyl that sportsmen often took on charity work for pragmatic reasons.
Later the prosecutor questioned whether Oscar Pistorius used his own funds to pay for prosthetics for disadvantaged young people, but Peet Van Zyl insisted that money earned for speaking which he asked to be paid not to himself but to charity was his own funds.
He also asked whether Peet Van Zyl had discussed future plans with the athlete, to which he replied that everything depended on the outcome of the trial.
Defense counsel Barry Roux then continued the line of questioning about Oscar Pistorius’ motivation for his charity work.
The athlete’s manager said that while he had contractual obligations to his sponsors, he was always available for them and never complained.
He also made himself available on other occasions and “went the extra mile” for disabled children, Peet Van Zyl added.
The prosecutor has reminded the court that the relationship between celebrity, charity and business is a quid pro quo, but it is not clear that he has done any more than that.
He says the judge’s verdict suggests that Gerrie Nel’s aggressive style may not work with her.
The next defense witness was Annette Vergeer, a probation officer who said she was working in a private capacity.
Reading out what she said was an objective report, she said Oscar Pistorius should receive a suspended sentence, community work, therapy, and correctional supervision.
Prison would punish him in a way that was not constructive, Annette Vergeer said, adding that he was “extremely broken” and would “only deteriorate” there.
“It is virtually impossible in prison to teach a person how to become a useful member of society, as there is no opportunity to practice these skills,” she said.
She said he had showed what she believed to be sincere grief and regret at the crime scene, and subsequent depression.
Oscar Pistorius had denied murdering Reeva Steenkamp after a row on Valentine’s Day last year, saying he shot her by mistake.
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