Pistorius Lawyer Says Murder Appeal Is Lost

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Written By Saeed Maleki

South African judges are deliberating on an appeal to change the conviction of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius from culpable homicide to murder.

The judges head a day of legal arguments about whether Pistorius should have realised he would kill someone when he let off four shots through a toilet cubicle door at what he claims was what he thought was an intruder in his home.

The shots killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius was arrested on suspicion of murder and after a lengthy and highly publicised trial, the judge at the hearing decided he had no intent to kill when he fired the shots.

He was convicted of culpable homicide and jailed for five years.

Call to change conviction

More controversy followed what many thought was an incorrect verdict when Pistorius was released from jail after a year to serve out the rest of his under house arrest at his brother’s palatial mansion.

Neither Pistorius nor any of his family attended the appeal hearing in Bloemfontein.

The appeal was made on the grounds that the trial judge wrongly interpreted the facts and the application of the law at the trial.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel has demanded the appeal court change the verdict to murder and resentence Pistorius.

To add to the controversy, defence lawyer Barrie Roux was clearly heard to tell Nel that he would lose the appeal.

Technical legal arguments

Nevertheless, the judges make the decision and have retired to mull over the verdict. No date was set for them to deliver their decision.

The hearing involved complicated legal arguments over how the trial judge interpreted and applied the charge of common-law murder – similar to the UK’s offence of manslaughter.

The defence claimed any reasonable person would realise that anyone in the tiny cubicle would have been hit when Pistorius fired through the door and argued that the only reason to have fired was to shoot someone deliberately.

In South African law, if someone believed that they might kill someone but still went ahead with their action, then they are guilty of murder.

Pistorius, a double leg amputee, came to fame competing at the London 2012 Olympics wearing special carbon blades in the 400 metres against able-bodied athletes.