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Pistorius defence files arguments fighting state appeal for murder

Published on 17/09/2015

Oscar Pistorius' defence team on Wednesday submitted its argument fighting a state bid to have the star athlete found guilty of murder instead of culpable homicide.

Last year, 28-year-old Pistorius was found guilty of shooting his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and was sentenced to five years in prison.

State prosecutors appealed Judge Thokozile Masipa’s judgement, saying she had misinterpreted the law when she ruled Pistorius did not intentionally shoot Steenkamp.

But in a 40-plus page argument against the state, the Pistorius defence team said prosecutors were trying to reintroduce a “failed case”, and was attacking the court’s findings and not questions of law.

Judge Masipa interpreted the law correctly, said the defence, arguing that the state had failed to prove Pistorius did not have a “genuine subjective belief of danger” when he shot 29-year-old Steenkamp four times through a locked toilet door fearing she was an intruder.

The appeal is set for November.

If the panel of judges agrees with the state, Pistorius could be convicted of the much more serious charge of murder, which would see him sit behind bars for a minimum of 15 years.

The Supreme Court of Appeal could also find that the law was not applied correctly in the case and send it back for a re-trial.

But in their appeal argument, the Pistorius defence team said the cash-strapped runner couldn’t afford any more legal battles.

Pistorius was due in August to leave prison under house arrest — until the justice minister made a last minute intervention blocking his release.

A parole review board will meet Friday to discuss the Paralympian’s case and make a decision as to whether or not he is fit to serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest.

Pistorius, once an Olympic poster boy, has been stripped of his lucrative sponsorship contracts and has not raced professionally since the shooting.