PISTORIUS ACQUITTED OF MURDER
Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been acquitted in the High Court in Pretoria of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
"The accused therefore cannot be found guilty of murder dolus eventualis [legal intent]... that however is not the end of the matter as culpable homicide is a competent verdict," said Judge Thokozile Masipa.
"The State has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder. There are just not enough facts to support such a finding."
The court ruled that the evidence with regard to the murder charge was "purely circumstantial".
A shaking Pistorius wept as the ruling was made.
Masipa found that Pistorius was a "very poor witness" and contradicted himself on the stand.
"During his evidence, he seemed composed and logical... [but] under cross examination he lost his composure...[and it seemed] the accused was suffering by enormous emotional stress and was traumatised by reliving the incident," she said.
"The accused was, amongst other things, an evasive witness."
Masipa noted that he failed to listen properly to questions, and that certain parts of his testimony did not make sense.
She questioned why four shots were fired instead of one, and said Pistorius was "clearly not candid" with the court.
Masipa said it was understandable that a person with a disability such as Pistorius's would feel vulnerable when threatened by danger.
"This court is satisfied that at the relevant time, the accused could distinguish between right and wrong," she said.
"The essence of accused's defence was that he had no intention to shoot at anyone... let alone the deceased."
Pistorius, 27, said he thought an intruder was behind the door of the toilet in his Pretoria home when he shot through it. He fired four times, killing his Steenkamp on February 14, 2013.
The State argued the murder was premeditated.
Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, and to three firearm-related charges.
(NAMPA / SAPA)