Why South Africa prosecutors want to appeal Oscar Pistorius conviction

South African prosecutors disagree with the culpable homicide conviction and the five-year sentence for Oscar Pistorius. They believe the judge misinterpreted the law, and Pistorius should be convicted of murder.

South African prosecutors will appeal the verdict and sentencing of Oscar Pistorius, who was handed a 5-year prison term after being convicted of culpable homicide, the country's National Prosecuting Authority said Monday.

"We are appealing it," said Nathi Mncube Mncube, a prosecution spokesman. "Both conviction and sentence."

Prosecutors will file papers in court, and more details about their appeal arguments will be available at that time, Mncube said.

Pistorius started serving his prison sentence on Oct. 21 after he was acquitted of murder by a judge and found guilty of a lesser charge of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, for shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a toilet door in his home last year.

Under the current terms, the Olympic runner is eligible for release after 10 months and would then complete his sentence under house arrest.

At the time of the sentencing, Mncube said prosecutors were disappointed with the culpable homicide conviction and that prosecutors believed they had a strong murder case against the double-amputee athlete.

The decision to go ahead with further court action means Pistorius could still face a murder conviction and a much longer prison term for killing Steenkamp.

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel laid the groundwork for the decision to appeal, speaking with Prof. James Grant, a criminal law specialist at Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand, Mncube said.

Judge Thokozile Masipa's decision to acquit Pistorius of the culpable homicide charge had been questioned by some legal analysts.

Grant, a television analyst during Pistorius' trial, was among them and wrote on Twitter that he had advised prosecutor Nel to appeal. He said he agreed to assist.

Experts say there are grounds for an appeal, partly because the judge may have misapplied a part of South African law called "dolus eventualis" — which says someone should be found guilty of murder if they foresaw the possibility of killing someone and went ahead anyway. The experts questioned how Masipa ruled that Pistorius did not predict that someone might die when he decided to shoot four times from close range into a small toilet cubicle in his home, hitting Steenkamp in the hip, arm and head.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.