Prosecutors Ask for Appeal in Oscar Pistorius Case

PHOTO: Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa on May 20, 2014.PlayThemba Hadebe/AP Photo
WATCH Prosecutors Ask for Appeal in Oscar Pistorius Case

The prosecution in the case against Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has asked the trial judge for permission to appeal his conviction on a charge of culpable homicide and his five-year sentence, saying the punishment was too lenient.

Pistorius, 28, was charged with murder for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year. He fired four shots through a locked bathroom door.

During the trial, he testified that he thought there was an intruder behind the door, wanting to attack him.

Judge Thokozile Masipa sentenced him in October to five years behind bars after convicting him on a lesser charge of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter.

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel today told the court the sentence was far too lenient.

"I say with utmost respect, too much mercy is shown. Perhaps the element of mercy was over-exaggerated,” he said.

Nel said a long custodial sentence in his opinion would have been 10 years.

"We are appealing the acquittal on the conviction of murder," Nel said, adding that the court had not taken all circumstantial evidence into account when it sentenced Pistorius.

Nel told the court it has to consider that another court could reasonably possibly come to a different conclusion and it, therefore, has no other option but to grant permission for the appeal to go ahead.

If the court does not grant this permission, Nel can directly petition the Supreme Court of Appeals to hear his appeal.

Pistorius’ advocate, Barry Roux, argued the court made the correct ruling and that the state can only appeal on matters of law and not of fact, as determined by case law.

Neither Pistorius, his relatives nor the Steenkamps were in court today.

Masipa, wearing a black robe instead of the red one she wore during the trial, was not flanked by her assessors as during the trial and would deal with the application alone.

She will hand down her ruling in the application for leave to appeal Wednesday.