Prosecutors Appeal Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial

It's been two weeks since Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was acquitted of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, but his legal saga is far from over. On Tuesday, South African prosecutors filed appeal papers challenging Pistorius' verdict and sentence, arguing that the paraplegic runner should serve a longer prison term. Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison — and he must serve at least two-thirds of that time — for culpable homicide, which is the South African equivalent to manslaughter.

The Associated Press reports that members of South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority filed papers with Judge Thokozile Masipa, the judge who presided over the seven-month Pistorius trial. The prosecutors are asking Masipa for permission to appeal her verdict and sentence, believing the judge made a mistake in acquitting the Olympian of murder.

If Masipa grants the prosecution permission to appeal, then Pistorius could once again face a minimum of 15 years in prison. It would be a much harsher sentence then the runner's current term, which allows him to apply to serve the rest the sentence under house arrest after 10 months. Pistorius is currently being held in the hospital wing of Pretoria's Kgosi Mampuru II prison, an infamous incarceration complex that was as the center of capital punishment during the South African apartheid.

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In the filed papers, lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel argues that Masipa "erred in over-emphasising the personal circumstances of the accused," according to BBC News. Among these "personal circumstances" were the claims that Pistorius endured post-traumatic stress during the murder trial and seemed "remorseful."

Nel adds in the filed documents:

Not enough emphasis was placed on the horrendous manner in which the deceased [Steenkamp] died coupled with the gruesome injuries she sustained when the accused shot and killed her.

The prosecutor called Pistorius' five-year sentence with the possibility of house arrest "shockingly light" and "inappropriate." Nel initially sought a 15-year sentence, the maximum for culpable homicide, for Pistorius once he was acquitted of murder.

Although Pistorius confessed in court to killing Steenkamp, Masipa acquitted him of murder because the prosecution could not prove that Pistorius had clear intent to kill his girlfriend. However, Masipa ruled that Pistorius acted negligibly when he fired four shots through his bathroom door, with intent to harm who he thought was an intruder. The four bullets hit Steenkamp in the head, arm and hip, fatally wounding her.

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