Prosecutors seek murder conviction for South Africa's Pistorius

Tue Nov 3, 2015 2:56pm EST
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By Stella Mapenzauswa

BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - Prosecutors called on Tuesday for South Africa's "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius to be convicted of murder and sent back to jail for shooting his girlfriend, challenging a court's decision to sentence him for a lesser offense.

The Paralympic gold medalist was freed on parole last month less than a year into a five-year sentence for the "culpable homicide" of Reeva Steenkamp, who he killed on Valentine's Day 2013.

Pistorius himself did not attend the half-day Supreme Court hearing into his highly-charged case, which has prompted a fierce debate in South Africa, and accusations from some rights groups that the white track star got preferential treatment.

Members of the ruling ANC party's Women's League attended the session and told reporters that Pistorius had been let out too soon and should have his conviction upgraded to murder, which has a minimum 15-year sentence.

"We are here for Reeva’s family and the state," the League's Gautain province spokeswoman, Jacqui Mofokeng, said.

Prosecutors argued that high court Judge Thokozile Masipa had made legal errors when she decided not to convict Pistorius of the more serious charge of murder last year.

The five Supreme Court judges said they would give their ruling at a later date, without specifying when. Legal experts say could convict Pistorius of murder themselves, order a retrial or reject the prosecution's appeal, legal experts have said, and their judgment could take weeks.

State prosecutors said they would aim to show that the high court approached the circumstantial evidence incorrectly and excluded relevant evidence.   Continued...

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius looks on ahead of his sentencing hearing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, in this October 16, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/Files