Oscar Pistorius' lawyers to challenge judge's appeal ruling

Prosecutors want to see the athlete convicted of murder

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The Independent Online

Oscar Pistorius’ lawyers are to challenge a judge’s decision allowing prosecutors to attempt to upgrade the Olympic athlete’s negligent killing conviction to murder.

The runner’s case will return to court on 13 March, after a judge granted prosecutors permission in December to take the case to South Africa’s Court of Appeal, where they will seek a harsher penalty.

Pistorius’ lawyers said in a statement on Tuesday that they have applied to argue against Judge Thokozile Masipa's ruling allowing the appeal.

Judge Masipa presided over Pistorius' seven-month murder trial last year, and found him guilty of culpable homicide for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29.

The athlete shot the model multiple times through a closed toilet door in his home on Valentine's Day 2013.

Masipa handed down a culpable homicide ruling, as she said Pistorius did not intend to kill Steenkamp and acquitted him of murder. However. she found he acted negligently when he fired four times through the door from close range with his 9 mm pistol.

Pistorius, 28, told the court that he mistook Steenkamp for a dangerous nighttime intruder.

Masipa also allowed prosecutors — who argued Pistorius committed premeditated murder after a fight with his girlfriend— to then appeal against her culpable homicide verdict.

The runner was sentenced to five years in prison, and is currently being held at a prison in the South African capital, Pretoria. He could be eligible to be moved to house arrest in August, when he may be able to serve the remainder of his sentence at his uncle's home.

If the Supreme Court of Appeal are persuaded by prosecutors and find that Pistorius should have been found guilty of murder, the runner faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. A date has not been set for any Supreme Court appeal by the prosecution.

Additional reporting by PA

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