Pistorius verdict, sentence facing appeal

Mon Oct 27, 2014 2:27pm EDT
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By David Dolan

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African prosecutors will appeal against the culpable homicide verdict and five-year jail sentence passed on Oscar Pistorius last week after public and legal criticism of the judge's decision to absolve the track star of murder.

The Olympic and Paralympic athlete, whose lower legs were amputated as a baby, killed his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year by firing four 9mm rounds into the locked door of a toilet cubicle in what he said was the mistaken belief an intruder was hiding behind it.

The announcement of the appeal came on Monday in a Twitter statement from Nathi Mncube, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA): "Oscar Pistorius judgment, NPA will be appealing both the conviction and sentence."

Mncube confirmed the appeal in an email to Reuters but gave no further details.

During the sensational seven-month trial, the state failed to convince judge Thokozile Masipa of Pistorius' intent to kill when he fired, leading to his conviction for negligent killing - culpable homicide - and a five-year jail term last week.

However, Masipa's decision to rule out murder was criticized by several legal experts and the Women's League of the African National Congress (ANC) as an erroneous interpretation of 'dolus eventualis', the legal principle by which a person is held accountable for the foreseeable consequences of their actions.

A possible error of law opens the way for an appeal by the state.

Under the principle of 'dolus eventualis', it does not matter whether Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp, so much as the imaginary person whom he believed to be behind the door.   Continued...

South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius (C) is escorted to a police van after his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria October 21, 2014. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko