Oscar Pistorius Verdict, Sentence Will Be Appealed by Prosecutors

Oscar Pistorius in Court 2/19 - H 2013
AFP/Getty Images

Oscar Pistorius in Court 2/19 - H 2013

The Olympic runner was given a five-year prison term after being found guilty of manslaughter for shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year

South African prosecutors will appeal the verdict and sentencing of Oscar Pistorius, who was handed a five-year prison term after being convicted of culpable homicide, the country's National Prosecuting Authority said Monday.

"We are appealing it," said Nathi Mncube, a prosecution spokesman. "Both conviction and sentence."

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Prosecutors will file papers in court, and more details about their appeal arguments will be available at that time, Mncube said.

Pistorius started serving his prison sentence Oct. 21 after he was acquitted of murder by a judge and found guilty of a lesser charge of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, for shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a toilet door in his home last year.

Under the current terms, the Olympic runner is eligible for release after 10 months and would then complete his sentence under house arrest.

At the time of the sentencing, Mncube said prosecutors were disappointed with the culpable homicide conviction and that prosecutors believed they had a strong murder case against the double-amputee athlete.

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The decision to go ahead with further court action means Pistorius could still face a murder conviction and a much longer prison term for killing Steenkamp.

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel laid the groundwork for the decision to appeal, speaking with Professor James Grant, a criminal law specialist at Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand, Mncube said.

Judge Thokozile Masipa's decision to acquit Pistorius of the culpable homicide charge had been questioned by some legal analysts.

Grant, a television analyst during Pistorius' trial, was among them and wrote on Twitter that he had advised prosecutor Nel to appeal. He said he agreed to assist.

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Experts say there are grounds for an appeal, partly because the judge may have misapplied a part of South African law called "dolus eventualis" — which says someone should be found guilty of murder if they foresaw the possibility of killing someone and went ahead anyway. The experts questioned how Masipa ruled that Pistorius did not predict that someone might die when he decided to shoot four times from close range into a small toilet cubicle in his home, hitting Steenkamp in the hip, arm and head.