South African prosecutor appeals Pistorius verdict

Tue Dec 9, 2014 5:20am EST
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PRETORIA (Reuters) - South African prosecutors appealed on Tuesday against the culpable homicide verdict and five-year prison term imposed on athlete Oscar Pistorius for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, saying it was "shockingly inappropriate".

Pistorius, an Olympic and Paralympic track star, maintained throughout his seven-month trial that he shot Steenkamp on Feb. 14, 2013, by mistake, thinking she was an intruder hiding behind the bathroom door in his house in Pretoria.

The prosecution failed to convince Pretoria High Court Judge Thokozile Masipa of Pistorius' intent to kill when he fired at his girlfriend, leading to his conviction in October for negligent killing - culpable homicide - and a five-year jail term.

"Based on all the evidence, perhaps the element of mercy was over-exaggerated," state prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued before Masipa

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

Pistorius, who was not in court on Tuesday, and his legal team are opposing the appeal.

In South African law, the judge who handed down a verdict decides on whether the judgement can be appealed.

(Reporting by Dinky Mkhize, Writing by Peroshni Govender,; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius is led to a prison van after his sentencing in Pretoria October 21, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings