A prosecutor sought a murder conviction before the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa against Oscar Pistorius, saying a lower court erred in acquitting the double-amputee sportsman of the charge for killing his girlfriend, instead.
“About the objective facts, the accused cannot escape the conviction of homicide,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel said, addressing a panel of five judges, who could convict Pistorius of murder. The judges could also rule that his manslaughter conviction should stand, or order another trial.
The Olympic runner’s chief defense lawyer, Barry Roux, also presented arguments to the judges, who wore black robes and sat with red backing on elaborate wooden chairs.
If convicted of homicide, Pistorius he’d face a minimum sentence of 15 years in penitentiary.
Prosecutors say a mistake was made by Judge Thokozile Masipa at Pistorius’ trial a year ago when she acquitted him of murder for killing Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. He was sentenced to five years in penitentiary, on being found guilty of culpable homicide, a charge comparable to manslaughter.
Pistorius, 28, was moved to house arrest at his uncle’s mansion and was released from jail last month after serving a year in prison. Five judges was absent at the hearing of Tuesday.
June Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp’s mom, was inside the wood-paneled courtroom in the central city. Nel was sat behind by her as he presented his arguments. The panel is headed by Judge Lex Mpati, the president -highest court.
Requesting the judges to upgrade Pistorius’ conviction to homicide, Nel said Masipa didn’t correctly apply the law at the culmination of Pistorius’ dramatic seven-month trial.
The prosecution’s argument rests on a portion of South African law called “dolus eventualis,” which calls for a person to be convicted of homicide with lesser motive if they foresaw that someone could be killed as a consequence of the actions, but went ahead anyhow.
Pistorius testified he fired out of fear because of his life, and had no intent to kill, believing there was a dangerous intruder inside the toilet cubicle.
The judges, who’ve examined the tens of tens of thousands of pages of court transcript from Pistorius’ trial, interrupted Roux and Nel often on Tuesday.
Among the judges pressed on whether Pistorius could not have foreseen that he would kill someone by shooting multiple times throughout the door of the little cubicle, Roux.
“In case you look at the photos, there’s room behind there for a toilet bowl and a person and pretty much nothing else,” Justice Lorimer Leach said. “There is nowhere to hide. It would really be a wonder if you didn’t shoot someone.”
Debates were scheduled to last just one day and also a decision can be reached by the judges using a simple majority. The judges were not expected to issue their verdict and there’s no timeframe for when they will, although the court has said it’d plan to release a choice by the end of this month.