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Prosecutors to appeal Pistorius judgement

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South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius (centre) arrives at the High Court in Pretoria on October 21, 2014/AFP

South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius (centre) arrives at the High Court in Pretoria on October 21, 2014/AFP

PRETORIA, Oct 27 – South African prosecutors said on Monday they would appeal the verdict and five-year jail term handed down to fallen track star Oscar Pistorius for killing his girlfriend last year.

“The decision to appeal both the conviction and sentence has been taken,” said National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Nathi Mncube.

Pistorius began a five-year prison stretch on October 21 after being found guilty of culpable homicide, a charge equivalent to manslaughter.

Trial judge Thokozile Masipa found in September that there was not enough evidence to convict the 27-year-old Paralympic and Olympic athlete of premeditated murder.

Her verdict angered the state prosecution, which had sought to prove that Pistorius deliberately shot dead 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.

Steenkamp was shot four times through a locked toilet door at Pistorius’s upmarket Pretoria home in the early hours of February 14, 2013.

Details of the appeal have not yet released, but Mncube said “the appeal on conviction is based on the question of law”.

South African criminal lawyers had expressed shock that Masipa ruled Pistorius could not have foreseen that someone would die when he fired the shots that killed Steenkamp.

They complained that the ruling could open the door to systematic abuse of the legal system, or to people believing it would be okay to shoot in an irresponsible manner.

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The double-amputee athlete alternatively told his lengthy trial in a Pretoria court that he believed there was an intruder and that he did not consciously fire his pistol.

“The merits and the demerits of the NPA’s argument in this regard will become evident when we file papers for leave to appeal,” said Mncube.

“The prosecutors are now preparing the necessary papers in order to be able to file within the next few days.”

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