Oscar Pistorius found not guilty of premeditated murder

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South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has been found not guilty of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Judge Thokozile Masipa also cleared him of second degree murder after concluding that there was not enough evidence to suggest that he intended to murder Steenkamp. Pistorius shot Ms Steenkamp dead on Valentine's Day 2013 but had pleaded not guilty to her murder back in March.

Jusdge Masipa called Pistorius's actions negligent and then adjourned court until tomorrow where he will learn of his fate. He could still be found guilty of Culpable Homicide, an equivalent of manslaughter, as well as hearing verdicts on charges relating to gun and ammunition possession. That decision now hinges on the subjective opinion of Masipa and whether she believes that Pistorius acted in a manner that any reasonable person in his situation would have acted.

Pistorius wept for long periods of the session today as Masipa ruled that the State prosecution team had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Pistorius had planned to kill Ms Steenkamp. She also suggested that Pistorius had a number of other options available to him such as calling the police rather than opening fire at the bathroom door. This could offer a crucial insight into her thinking in relation to a manslaughter charge.

Masipa also said that Pistorius had been an evasive witness who had crumbled under cross examination but that this alone was not evidence enough of guilt. She said that overall he had proved to be a very poor witness who contradicted himself often and made reference to him criticising his own legal team during questioning by the prosecution.

From the outset, Pistorius has always maintained his innocence and said that he did not know that Steenkamp was in the bathroom. He assumed that a burglar had climbed into the apartment and was hiding in the bathroom before firing 4 shots through a closed door. Ms Steenkamp died instantly and Pistorius was beside himself when police arrived at the scene.

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