Pretoria (South Africa): South African prosecutors filed an appeal yesterday calling for Paralympian star Oscar Pistorius to be convicted of murder for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp — just days before he is due to be released from prison.
Oscar Pistorius with Reeva Steenkamp in 2012. Pic/AFP
Pistorius has spent less than a year behind bars since being convicted in a sensational trial on the lesser charge of culpable homicide, and is expected to leave jail on Friday for a form of house arrest.
But the 28-year-old could soon be back in prison if prosecutors are successful in their argument in the appeal court that he should have been convicted of murder rather than culpable homicide, a charge equivalent to manslaughter. If they win their case, which is expected to be heard in November, Pistorius could face at least 15 years in jail.
The athlete, known as the 'Blade Runner' for the prosthetic legs he wears on the track, raced against able-bodied competitors in the 2012 London Olympics.
"I think the chances are pretty good that the appeals court will rule in favour of the state and overturn the verdict," said Ulrich Roux, a criminal lawyer in Johannesburg.
"He is faced with the unusual circumstance that he's released on house arrest and then the court could find him guilty of murder and he'll have to return to prison."
Pistorius does not dispute that he shot model and law graduate Steenkamp four times through a locked toilet door in his Pretoria home in the early hours of the Valentine's Day in 2013. But he said he mistook the 29-year-old for an intruder. Prosecutors insist that he killed the her after an argument.
While there is speculation that Pistorius will serve his house arrest at his Uncle Arnold's house in a posh Pretoria suburb, there is a possibility the athlete will ask to serve his sentence in a different location, away from the media.