South African judge Thokozile Masipa has cleared Olympic and paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius of all murder charges, Reuters said.
“Clearly he did not subjectively foresee this as a possibility that he would kill the person behind the door, let alone the deceased as he thought she was in the bedroom,” Masipa told a court and Pistorius, who broke down in tears.
He could still be found guilty of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter, if Masipa believes the athlete was negligent in shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year.
The judge earlier said the state had failed to prove that Pistorius was guilty of premeditated murder.
The tragedy happened on February 14, 2013, when Reeva Steenkamp’s body was found in Pistorius’s toilet room.
Pistorius woke up at night and heard sounds from the bathroom. Thinking it was a robber, he shot several times at the closed door. When he opened it, he saw his bleeding girlfriend who died shortly afterward.
South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world and armed robberies are common.
On February 19, 2013 Pretoria Prosecutor Gerrie Nel charged Pistorius with the premeditated murder. Later in February, the athlete was released on bail for a million South African rands.
In March 2013, Pistorius’s lawyers appealed the court’s decision not to let him out of the country, and the appeal was granted. Pistorius was ordered to present a detailed plan of his journeys no later than a week before leaving the country.
Pistorius is a double amputee runner and a six-time Paralympic champion who has also taken part in able-bodied competitions. He won a silver medal in the 4×400 meter relay at the 2011 world championship.
Judge Thokozile Masipa was arrested in 1970s when taking part in protests against the detention of journalists during Apartheid. In 1998, she became the second black woman in South Africa to be appointed a judge.