Oscar Pistorius appeal verdict: Hearing to decide if athlete's conviction and 'shockingly inappropriate' sentence will be overturned

Both the Paralympian’s manslaughter conviction and jail term could be appealed by the state

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The Independent Online

On the 49th day of Oscar Pistorius’s prison sentence for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the court in South Africa reconvened to decide whether his conviction and jail term can be appealed.

After hearing submissions from the prosecution and the defence, Judge Thokozile Masipa said she would give her decision on whether or not the disgraced Paralympic athlete could still face a murder charge until Wednesday morning.

The prosecution argued on Tuesday "on a point of law" that Pistorius should not have been acquitted of the more serious charge, as well as that his five-year sentence for culpable homicide (manslaughter) was too lenient.

While the athlete did not attend court himself, the key figures from his murder trial – Judge Masipa, lawyers Gerrie Nel for the prosecution and Barry Roux for the defence – all returned to the same Pretoria courtroom for the hearing.

Speaking this morning, Nel said: "There is a very good prospect that we may convince an appeal court that the shortest possible incarceration in a case like this, my lady, is shockingly inappropriate."

Nel said that he won’t be arguing the points of fact from the case again. Rather, the state is calling for a harsher sentence and a conviction of murder.

The prosecution has said that by giving the athlete a five-year sentence for culpable homicide (manslaughter), the court has set a “shockingly low” precedent for this type of crime.

The state has continued to refer to the killing as “murder” in its submission to the court, asking Judge Masipa to grant permission to appeal her verdict that Pistorius acted negligently when he shot Steenkamp four times through a closed toilet door, and that he had not intended to kill her.

The full prosecution submission includes details that, it says, show Pistorius has not shown sufficient remorse for his crime, as well as questioning Judge Masipa’s “overemphasising [of] the personal circumstances” of the athlete, who is being held at the hospital wing of Pretoria's Kgosi Mampuru II prison.

In seeking to appeal for a murder conviction, the state argues that the court may not have correctly applied the principles of dolus eventualis – that Pistorius foresaw his actions would lead to the death of the person behind the bathroom door.

In closing proceedings today, Judge Masipa said she needed time to consider her decision and adjourned court to Wednesday at 9.30am South African time (7.30am GMT).

If she does not grant an appeal, the state could petition the decision – and if she does, the case will continue at Bloemfontein’s supreme court of appeal.

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