Pistorius challenges prosecution’s right to appeal
Oscar Pistorius's lawyers have mounted a legal challenge to the state's right to appeal the disgraced athlete's manslaughter conviction, his legal team said Tuesday.
State prosecutors were in December granted permission to appeal a High Court decision acquitting the double amputee sprinter of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius was convicted instead on the lesser charge of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, and sentenced to five years in prison.
Pistorius’s legal team say his conviction was based on facts presented during the trial, not on an interpretation of law, and therefore cannot be appealed.
“We will argue that these are matters of fact, rather than matters of law,” they said in a statement.
A hearing has been set down for March 13.
The 28 year-old athlete killed Steenkamp at his upmarket home outside Pretoria on Valentine’s Day 2013.
During the trial, Pistorius testified that he shot the model four times through a locked toilet door, believing she was an intruder.
Prosecutors argued he deliberately killed the 29-year-old law graduate after an argument, but Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled they had failed to prove intent.
The state is seeking to have that ruling overturned.
If an appeals court found him guilty of murder, the Paralympian — known as the “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs he wears on the track — could face at least 15 years in jail.
But the challenge by his lawyers to the appeal is likely to delay the process.
Pistorius’s trial last year attracted massive local and international interest and revealed a darker side to the once-revered athlete.
He is currently serving his prison term in the hospital ward of a Pretoria prison, away from the often overcrowded cells of South Africa’s jails, which are notorious for gang violence.