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Prosecution Will Seek Pistorius Murder Conviction

Judge allows appeal of verdict but not sentence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 10, 2014 12:54 AM CST

(Newser) – South African prosecutors can appeal Oscar Pistorius' acquittal on murder charges for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a judge ruled today. Judge Thokozile Masipa announced the ruling in a Pretoria court, saying she was satisfied that chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel had raised "questions of law" that should be reviewed by the Supreme Court of Appeal. "This might have a practical effect on the conviction," Masipa said. Under the principle of the law in question, a person should be found guilty of murder if he foresaw the possibility of a person dying because of his actions and went ahead with those actions anyway.

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In October, Pistorius was sentenced to five years for culpable homicide. Nel said the sentence was "shockingly inappropriate and does not fit the crime and the accused," but the judge decided prosecutors could not challenge the length of the sentence, only the conviction, reports the BBC. Pistorius—who faces a minimum of 15 years in prison if his conviction is upgraded to murder on appeal—is serving his sentence in the hospital wing of a Pretoria prison, but he could be released from prison into house arrest after 10 months. A prosecution spokesman says he hopes the appeal will be "expedited" but acknowledges that the process can take a long time. (Read more Oscar Pistorius stories.)

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