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Pistorius appeal decision awaited

A South African judge says she will respond to the prosecution's appeal of the Oscar Pistorius verdict on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the Pretoria High Court that the decision to acquit Pistorius of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, should be overturned. Mr Nel also argues that star-athlete's punishment was "shockingly inappropriate".

Pistorius' defence lawyer, Barry Roux, argued against allowing the prosecution to appeal the verdict and sentence.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, who presided over the Pistorius trial, will also decide whether the case can be heard at the Supreme Court of Appeal.

In October, she convicted Pistorius of the lesser charge of culpable homicide and sentenced him to a five-year prison term. He could be released from prison to be held under house arrest after 10 months.

"There is a very good prospect that we may convince an appeal court that the shortest possible incarceration in a case like this, my lady, is shockingly inappropriate," Mr Nel said, addressing Masipa in the same courtroom where the murder trial was conducted. If his appeal is granted, Mr Nel said he will argue for a harsher sentence.

The double-amputee athlete is serving his sentence in a Pretoria prison and was not in court.

Pistorius fatally shot Ms Steenkamp in his home on Valentine's Day last year. He said he thought a dangerous intruder was in the house; prosecutors allege he killed his girlfriend after an argument and are now appealing his acquittal of murder.

In an argument that continued for over an hour, Mr Nel cited a number of complex cases which resulted in a retrial. This can only happen in specific circumstances because South African law, like US law, does not allow an accused to be tried twice for the same charge.

If an appeal is granted and Pistorius is convicted of murder, he would face a minimum of 15 years in prison.

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