The Olympic and Paralympic athlete, whose lower legs were
amputated as a baby, killed his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last
year by firing four 9mm rounds into the locked door of a toilet
cubicle in what he said was the mistaken belief an intruder was
hiding behind it.
The announcement of the appeal came on Monday in a Twitter statement
from Nathi Mncube, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority
(NPA): "Oscar Pistorius judgment, NPA will be appealing both the
conviction and sentence."
Mncube confirmed the appeal in an email to Reuters but gave no
During the sensational seven-month trial, the state failed to
convince judge Thokozile Masipa of Pistorius' intent to kill when he
fired, leading to his conviction for negligent killing - culpable
homicide - and a five-year jail term last week.
However, Masipa's decision to rule out murder was criticized by
several legal experts and the Women's League of the African National
Congress (ANC) as an erroneous interpretation of 'dolus eventualis',
the legal principle by which a person is held accountable for the
foreseeable consequences of their actions.
A possible error of law opens the way for an appeal by the state.
Under the principle of 'dolus eventualis', it does not matter
whether Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp, so much as the
imaginary person whom he believed to be behind the door.
"We have already sought a legal opinion on the proceedings thus far,
especially on the interpretation of the Pistorius judgment and in
particular the understanding of the concept of dolus," the ANC
Women's League said before Mncube's statement.
"We believe regardless of whom Mr. Pistorius believed was behind the
bathroom door on that fateful night, Mr. Pistorius shot to kill and
therefore a murder did occur."
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James Grant, a professor of criminal law and expert on 'dolus' at
Johannesburg's Witwatersrand University, said last week that lead
prosecutor Gerrie Nel had asked for his assistance in the event of a
possible legal review.
"I have advised that he should appeal and agreed to assist," Grant
said on Twitter.
Despite the criticism of Masipa's ruling, some lawyers said her
decision was legally sound.
In South Africa, an appeal by the state involves a review of the
trial and verdict by a panel of senior judges who only consider the
court's interpretation of evidence and matters of law.
They do not initiate a retrial or listen to any new evidence.
If the verdict is overturned and found to be murder, Pistorius could
face a much longer stretch behind bars.
He is currently in the hospital wing of the capital's Kgosi Mampuru
II prison, formerly known as Pretoria Central.
The vast complex, infamous as the execution site of black activists
under South Africa's old white-minority government, is now home to
some of its highest-profile criminals, including 'Prime Evil'
apartheid death squad leader Eugene de Kock.
(Reporting by David Dolan and Ed Cropley; Editing by Joe Brock and
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