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Oscar Pistorius prosecutors file appeal papers

Published 17/08/2015

Oscar Pistorius is expected to be released from prison on Friday to be moved to house arrest
Oscar Pistorius is expected to be released from prison on Friday to be moved to house arrest

Prosecutors pushing for a murder conviction against Oscar Pistorius have filed papers at South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal.

Court registrar Paul Myburgh said the papers were filed on Monday, four days ahead of Pistorius's expected release from prison to be moved to house arrest.

Prosecutors want a panel of judges at the Supreme Court to overrule a decision by another judge to acquit the double-amputee Olympic athlete of murder for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, for shooting Ms Steenkamp through a toilet cubicle door in his home in Pretoria.

He was sentenced to five years in jail.

Pistorius is expected to be released from prison on Friday after serving 10 months of his culpable homicide sentence. He would serve the remainder under house arrest.

Lawyers for Pistorius have until September 17 to file their response ahead of a hearing in November.

Because of his good behaviour, the 28-year-old can be released from the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in the South African capital Pretoria on probation to serve the remainder under house arrest.

Prosecutors announced their intention to appeal against Judge Thokozile Masipa's decision shortly after Pistorius's months-long trial last year.

They said Judge Masipa made an error in interpreting the law when she cleared Pistorius of murder and found him guilty instead of an unintentional but still unlawful killing.

Quoting a section of South African law known as "dolus eventualis", prosecutors argue in their appeal papers that the former track star should be convicted of murder because he shot through the toilet door in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day two years ago, knowing that whoever was behind the door would probably be killed and without just cause.

It is possible to be convicted of murder in South Africa if it is shown that a person foresaw the possibility of someone's death because of their actions and went ahead anyway.

Pistorius gave evidence that he shot Ms Steenkamp after mistaking her for a dangerous intruder hiding in his bathroom. If his conviction is upgraded from manslaughter to murder, he would be sentenced to at least 15 years in prison, the minimum sentence for a murder conviction in South Africa, which does not have the death penalty.

The prosecution's appeal will be heard by a panel of either three or five judges at the Supreme Court in the central city of Bloemfontein. They could convict Pistorius of murder with a simple 2-1 or 3-2 majority.

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