South African prosecutors oppose Pistorius's final appeal

Johannesburg: South African prosecutors said yesterday that they would oppose Oscar Pistorius's attempt to have his murder conviction overturned in the Constitutional Court, describing his appeal as having "no reasonable prospect of success".

Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius

The Paralympic champion has been on bail awaiting a new sentence since December, when the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) found him guilty of murder for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013. The SCA overturned his earlier conviction on the lesser charge of culpable homicide. Two weeks ago his lawyers applied for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court, the highest court in South Africa, arguing the SCA had "acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally".

But the National Prosecuting Authority today lodged papers with the court opposing the appeal. "It is our respectful submission that the SCA committed no errors of law and that the arguments by the applicant are without merit and contrived," it said. The double-amputee killed Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, in the early hours of Valentine's Day three years ago, saying he mistook her for an intruder when he shot four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.

Pistorius was released from jail in October to live under house arrest at his uncle's property in Pretoria after serving one year of his five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide -- the equivalent of manslaughter. The SCA judges last month described his testimony at his trial in 2014 as "untruthful" and delivered a damning
indictment of the original verdict.

The Constitutional Court will now decide whether to hear the case. Pistorius, 29, could face at least 15 years in jail for his murder conviction. His next sentencing hearing is on April 18.

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