Pistorius' lawyers oppose verdict, jail sentence appeal

Fri Nov 7, 2014 6:29am EST
 
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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Oscar Pistorius' lawyers have formally opposed an appeal by the state against the South African athlete's culpable homicide verdict and five-year jail sentence handed down last month, prosecutors said on Friday.

Pistorius was sentenced in the negligent killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp after the state failed to convince judge Thokozile Masipa that he intended to kill when he fired shots through a locked toilet door at his luxury Pretoria home.

Prosecutors appealed the ruling on Tuesday, challenging the Masipa's interpretation of the law. They need to convince her another court could reach a different verdict.

The decision by Pistorius' team to oppose the appeal means Judge Masipa will have to hear arguments from both sides, which will take more time than a regular appeal procedure. She has not said when the appeal hearing will take place.

Pistorius' lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

South African prosecutors told Talk Radio 702 on Friday they had received documents from Pistorius' lawyers giving notice of their intention to oppose the state's appeal.

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

Masipa's decision to rule out murder was criticized by legal professionals and the Women's League of the African National Congress (ANC) as an erroneous interpretation of the law.

(Reporting by Xola Potelwa; Editing by Joe Brock and Tom Heneghan)

 
South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attends his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria October 21, 2014.  REUTERS/Themba Hadebe/Pool