Oscar Pistorius release: Prosecutors launch appeal to upgrade verdict to murder

The athlete was convicted of culpable homicide, roughly equivalent to manslaughter

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The Independent Online

Prosecutors have launched an appeal against the verdict in the case of a killing committed by South African athlete Oscar Pistorius.

Mr Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013.

A trial for the incident he admitted firing four shots into a locked toilet cubicle door and said he believed he was shooting at an intruder in his home.

But state prosecutors want the verdict – which is equivalent to manslaughter – upgraded to murder.

They say the paralympian knew there was someone hiding behind the door when he pulled the trigger, and that this amounts to the level of intent required for murder.

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Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

29-year-old Ms Steenkamp was a South African model and the partner of Mr Pistorius at the time of her death.

Mr Pistorius is due to be released on Friday after serving 10 months of a five-year sentence, a stint in line with South African guidelines for criminals who are not considered dangerous.

Ms Steenkamp's family have previously argued that  10 months in prison is “not enough” to do justice.

"As her family, we do not seek to avenge her death and we do not want Mr Pistorius to suffer; that will not bring her back to us,” they said in a statement released in June of this year.

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A picture taken on January 26, 2013 shows Olympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius posing next to his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp - 3 weeks later Pistorius was taken into police custody.

"However, a person found guilty of a crime must be held accountable for their actions. Incarceration of 10 months for taking a life is simply not enough.”

During sentencing, Judge Thokozile Masipa said prosecutors had failed prove Pistorius's intent to kill when he fired.

“We filed the appeal today,” South African National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said.

Mr Pistorius, a double-leg amputee, won gold medals in the men’s 400 metres and 4 x 400 metre relay at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.

He was also the first person with such a condition to compete in the Olympics that summer.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in November, according to the NPA. Mr Pistorius’s legal team has a month to file a formal response to the appeal.

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