Oscar Pistorius: Athlete could still face murder charges after appeal over ruling allowing prosecutors to upgrade conviction is struck out

Disgraced Paralympian runner killed Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 

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The Independent Online

Oscar Pistorius could still face murder charges after a court in South Africa struck out his application to challenge a ruling granting prosecutors the chance to attempt to upgrade his culpable homicide conviction to murder.

The disgraced Paralympian athlete was sentenced to five years in prison for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority announced it would be appealing both the verdict and the sentence he received in October.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, who oversaw the seven month trial, granted prosecutors permission in December to take the case to South Africa’s Court of Appeal to seek a harsher penalty.

Lawyers acting for Pistorius announced in February they had applied to argue the ruling after the appeal was granted.

But on Friday, Judge Masipa denied the defence's application on the basis that she believed her court was not the right place for it to be heard.

“I am not satisfied that this is the correct court to hear this application,” she was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

“There is really nothing new in the submissions by counsel for the applicant Pistorius.”

Her ruling means the supreme court of appeal cannot refuse to hear arguments on the basis that the defence did not attempt to appeal against the state's application.

Masipa handed down a culpable homicide ruling, as she said Pistorius did not intend to kill Ms Steenkamp and acquitted him of murder.

However, she concluded he acted negligently when he fired four times through a locked bathroom door at close range, where Ms Steenkamp was inside.

The prosecution has condemned his five-year imprisonment as "shockingly inappropriate".