South Africa asks appeal court to convict Pistorius of murder

Mon Nov 2, 2015 6:35pm EST
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By Stella Mapenzauswa

BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - South African paralympian Oscar Pistorius, freed on parole last month after serving a fifth of his prison term for killing his girlfriend, faces years more in jail if state lawyers can get his conviction scaled up to murder from culpable homicide.

Prosecutors will argue before the Supreme Court that a high court judge was wrong to let Pistorius off the more serious charge after he fired four shots through a door on Valentine's Day 2013, killing Reeva Steenkamp.

The 28-year-old track star will not be present at the one-day hearing in Bloemfontein, 400 km (250 miles) southwest of Johannesburg, his lawyer Barry Roux told Reuters.

A panel of five judges will hear the appeal, and could either order a retrial, convict Pistorius of murder themselves or reject the prosecution's appeal, legal experts have said.

"The (high) court not only approached the circumstantial evidence incorrectly, but also incorrectly excluded relevant evidence," prosecutors said in documents filed at the court.

Pistorius, dubbed "Blade Runner" because of the carbon fibre prosthetic blades he uses to compete, denied deliberately killing his girlfriend during his six-month trial, saying he mistook her for an intruder at his home.

Prosecutors said Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp, who they said fled to the toilet during a row.

But high court Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled last year that the state had failed to prove intent or "dolus eventualis", a legal concept that centres on a person being held responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their actions.   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