South Africa has a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for murder unless an offender can show reasons why it should be reduced. Judge Thokozile Masipa said those “substantial and compelling circumstances” did exist in the case of the world-famous runner, who shot Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet door in his home in 2013. Masipa called the double-amputee Olympian a “fallen hero.”
Pistorius will be eligible for parole after three years. Prosecutors can appeal for a heavier sentence.
One of Pistorius’ defense lawyers said they would not appeal the decision. “The family accepts the judgment,” Anneliese Burgess, a spokeswoman for the Pistorius family, said outside the courtroom.
Prosecutors did not immediately say if they will challenge the sentence.
In deciding to deviate from the minimum of 15 years, Judge Masipa said Pistorius is a “good candidate for rehabilitation,” and is unlikely to reoffend.