Judge rules whether prosecutors can appeal Pistorius’ conviction

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JOHANNESBURG (CNN) — A judge in Pretoria ruled Wednesday that South African prosecutors can appeal Oscar Pistorius’ conviction, but denied the state’s bid to appeal his sentence.

Prosecutors had said Pistorius’ sentence of five years in prison for shooting dead his girlfriend is nowhere near enough punishment.

They also want the double-amputee track star to be convicted of a more serious charge. They had originally sought conviction on a charge of murder.

Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide, or negligent killing, in the death of Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius didn’t attend the hearing, which began Tuesday.

‘Shockingly light’

In appeal documents filed previously, the prosecution called Pistorius’ sentence “shockingly light” and inappropriate.

Prosecutors argued that Judge Thokozile Masipa misinterpreted a complex South African standard defining a technical form of intent that proved to be a central aspect of the case, according to CNN Legal Analyst Kelly Phelps.

As a result, prosecutors argued, he should not have been convicted on the culpable homicide charge chosen by the judge.

In explaining her sentence, Masipa had said that Pistorius did not intend to kill Steenkamp.

But critics of the verdict have argued that Masipa didn’t correctly apply the intent standard, which is broader in South African law than what it typically means in casual conversation, Phelps says.

Harsher or lighter sentence?

In their appeal of the sentence, prosecutors needed to prove the five years given by Masipa is inappropriate in light of sentencing guidelines and similar cases, according to Phelps. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel called for a minimum sentence of 10 years.

The case now goes to the Supreme Court of Appeals in Bloemfontein, which will hear the appeal itself.

Pistorius, 28, made history when he became the first double-amputee to compete in the able-bodied Olympics in 2012. He was born without the fibulae in his legs, which were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old.

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