THE ‘BLADE RUNNER’ TRIAL: FALLING SHORT OF MURDER ?

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South African Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius leaves the High Court after the verdict in his murder trial where he was found guilty of culpable homicide in Pretoria, South Africa on Sept. 12, 2014.Image from here.

South African Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius leaves the High Court after the verdict in his murder trial where he was found guilty of culpable homicide in Pretoria, South Africa on Sept. 12, 2014. Image from here.

Oscar Pistorius the star runner of South Africa, who attained a high stature in the international competitions of Paralympics Games and the Summer Olympics of 2012, the prime accused of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp was found guilty of culpable homicide by the magistrate’s Court of Pretoria recently.

Analysis by Naman Verma, Student of RMNLU, Lucknow.

The question before the court was not whether the double amputee runner shot her girlfriend Reeva or not but whether there was a premeditated intention on his part to murder her. The prosecutor where claimed that the time required for this process was sufficient to establish the alleged murder as premeditated, the ‘Blade Runner’ on the other hand endeavoured the court to believe that he shot Reeva but only thinking of her as an intruder. Although the only person who would ever know for certain that whether Oscar Pistorius meant to kill Reeva Steenkamp, or whether knew that he was shooting her but didn’t somehow considered the consequences of his restless act, or that he merely did not realise he was shooting anyone because her girlfriend managed to stay somehow silent while being shot through a bathroom door with bullets, can be no one other than  Pistorius himself. But so as to make sure that the ideal system of governance is pursued and to make it certain that the justice is nowhere denied, in an attempt to dispense with the same the verdict delivered by the Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa, marked the culmination of this anecdote which left many around the world spell bounded.

In South Africa, the law defines murder as intentional unlawful killing of another human being. The defense counsel contended for the innocence of the accused on the grounds that Pistorius acted in such a demeanour because he mistook Reeva as a burglar, who had broke in his home through the window and thereby acted in self defence, which according to the law excludes the requirement of unlawfulness for criminal liability. In other words an act done in valid self defence is lawful. However, the court did not fall short of considering the fact that whether this mistake was reasonable or not, one that a reasonable person in the similar circumstances would have made. The verdict of holding Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide rather than murder was competent enough according to some, as according to Judge Masipa, the state had not proved beyond the reasonable doubt that Pistorius was guilty of premeditated murder. Nevertheless, the court also held that   a reasonable person would have “foreseen the possibility that if he fired shots whoever was behind the door, might be struck and die as a result”, in which Pistorious failed entirely. As of now, the accused has been found guilty of Culpable Homicide and for contravention of S. 120 (3) (b) of Firearms Control Act, 2000. Meanwhile, he has been bludgeoned with uncertainties of his future, getting a bail extension till 13th October when his sentencing trial begins.

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As a critique of this judgment many described Pistorius as an “appalling witness” who under an oath testified on one hand and yet covered up the murder. For many indeed, he did not came completely as an astonishment as his act of such agitation was not the first one as the athlete also countenances separate charges twice of discharging a firearm in public and of illegal possession of ammunition respectively. Another exemplar of his previous offensive behaviour was also noted where he came second in a race, relentlessly accused the winner of having an unfair benefit with his blades. The point to be taken into consideration is that although such issues wouldn’t formulate any individual as a murderer, nevertheless it does advocates the reckless and frenzy attitude of a person. The entire sketch of the story reveals two self contradictory personalities of the athlete, resulting in an absurdity of the behaviour of this personage. On one hand where this person represents his triumphs over his disability on the international juncture of athletics, the same person on the other hand is seen striving hard to control the outcomes of his acts done hastily.

The society all around the world has now become accustomed to the scheme of well-off male icons being though accused of perpetrating offences against the credulous women yet being sheltered, which often appears as it has become a folklore of revealing and criticising the crime, rather than holding the wrongdoer accountable for the crime that he committed . The need of the hour is that the offender whosoever it might be irrespective of his stature must be held accountable. Though the sentence in this case is yet awaited, many still aspire to see the justice dispensed.

Also refer : this and this.

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