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Monday, March 16, 2015

Oscar Pistorius's challenge against state appeal thrown out

Thokozile Masipa, the judge who cleared the athlete of murder, says she cannot rule against her own decision to give prosecutors leave to appeal

A judge has thrown out an attempt by Oscar Pistorius’s lawyers to challenge a prosecution appeal against his acquittal of murder.

Thokozile Masipa, who presided over the athlete’s original trial, said she could not be asked to rule on her decision to grant the appeal, which will be heard at the supreme court at a later date.

Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner, is serving a five-year jail sentence for shooting dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, but could be moved to house arrest in August.

Masipa ruled in December that state prosecutors could appeal against her verdict of culpable homicide – the South African equivalent of manslaughter – and seek to have it upgraded to murder, which carries a heavier jail term.

Masipa agreed with the prosecutors that the verdict was based on her interpretation of law. An appeal can only be granted on a question of law rather than fact.


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