Oscar Pistorius' Prosecutor Wants to Appeal for Tougher Sentence

PHOTO: Oscar Pistorius is pictured in court on Oct. 21, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa.Herman Verwey/Getty Images
Oscar Pistorius is pictured in court on Oct. 21, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa.

Oscar Pistorius may face a fresh legal battle because prosecutors in his case has asked permission to appeal his conviction and sentence, seeking a tougher prison term for the legless sprinter known as The Blade Runner.

Pistorius, 27, was sentenced to five years behind bars last month for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, but he would be eligible for house arrest after 10 months. He is currently being held in the hospital section of the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria.

Judge Thokozile Masipa had earlier rejected a murder conviction and instead found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter.

In his closing argument, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the paralympic champion should be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison.

The National Prosecuting Authority’s spokesperson, Nathi Mncube, said in a statement: "Today, we announce that the NPA filed the application for leave to appeal both the conviction and sentence. The appeal on conviction is based on the question of law.”

Mncube refused to detail the grounds on which the application is based, but the application documents filed today reveal that prosecutors believe there has been an error in the judge’s interpretation of the law and that she overemphasized Pistorius' physical disability, his psychological condition which included depression.

Masipa has to give permission for an appeal. The prosecution would have to convince her that another court might have come to a different conclusion. This could happen in an open court, but the judge has the discretion to hear the matter in chambers.

If the judge does not grant permission for the appeal to proceed, the NPA can petition the Supreme Court of Appeals to hear the matter.

The decision to appeal could see the Olympic runner face a murder conviction again for shooting Steenkamp, and face the prospect of a minimum of 15 years in prison if he is found guilty.