Africa

Oscar Pistorius case: South African judge rejects murder appeal challenge

Oscar Pistorius pictured on 17 October 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Pistorius is serving his sentence in the hospital section of a Pretoria prison

Oscar Pistorius's lawyers have failed to block an appeal by prosecutors against the South African Paralympian's acquittal on murder charges.

He was cleared of murder last year but was sentenced to five years in jail for the lesser charge of culpable homicide.

Prosecutors are seeking a murder conviction after he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

On Friday, the Johannesburg High Court rejected the application by the defence team to stop the prosecutors' appeal.

After a short hearing, Judge Thokozile Masipa said procedure did not allow her to grant or refuse the application.

"In my view, to entertain this application will be tantamount to reviewing my own decision," she said.

"For one thing there is really nothing new in the submissions by counsel for the applicant."

The double amputee athlete was acquitted by Judge Masipa of both premeditated murder and the lesser murder charge of dolus eventualis, also known as common-law murder in September last year.

In South African law, this charge applies if the accused knew they might kill someone but still went ahead with their course of action.

Pistorius says he shot Ms Steenkamp accidentally, after mistaking her for a burglar.

Prosecutors are pushing for the appeal because they believe that a full bench of judges in the Supreme Court of Appeal will agree with them that Judge Masipa misinterpreted the principles of dolus eventualis and will both convict him of murder and impose a longer sentence, says the BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg.

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Media captionKey events in Oscar Pistorius' life - in 60 seconds

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