Pistorius Prosecutors To Appeal, Think Judge Made A Mistake

Pistorius may have been convicted on a lesser charge, but prosecutors think the judge misread the law when she didn't convict him of murder.

Pistorius Prosecutors To Appeal, Think Judge Made A Mistake
Getty Images / Herman Verwey

The seven-month legal battle over the trial and sentencing of Oscar Pistorius for the killing of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp apparently isn't over. A spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority said Monday the NPA will appeal both rulings.

Pistorius avoided a murder conviction last month and was instead convicted on the lesser charge of culpable homicide. The judge said prosecutors hadn't demonstrated that Pistorius knew it was Steenkamp he shot at and not an intruder.

BBC: "The accused believed that, at the time he fired shots into the toilet door, the deceased was in the bedroom while the intruders were in the toilet."

Last week, Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison, though his lawyers say he might be out in as little as 10 months. (Video via NBC)

To be clear, it's the prosecutors who are appealing those rulings, not Pistorius and not Steenkamp's family, who said they've accepted the court's decision.

ITV: "He could be out of prison in 10 months time."

"I know. Yes, but we're still satisfied with the sentence."

Under South African law, the prosecutors can appeal — but only if they believe the judge made an error. 

The NPA spokesman told SABC the group won't reveal exactly what error they think the judge made until the paperwork is filed, which could be several days.

But the outcome of the trial has been controversial from the start. One legal analyst told The Sunday Times"It seems as if she arrived at the conclusion by making a mistake of law relating to whether it matters who was behind the door."

And another legal analyst for TSN clarifies: "The prosecution had to establish that Pistorius intended to kill someone – Steenkamp or the intruder. That's right – it's still murder if it could be shown that Pistorius intended to kill anyone that night."

The judge only seemed to be concerned with whether Pistorius meant to kill Steenkamp, so that's the most likely target for the NPA.

The group's decision to appeal was applauded by the Women's League of the ANC, South Africa's dominant political party. 

Though a CNN legal analyst argues there are plenty who think stretching the trial out even longer is a waste of state resources.

"Usually in a criminal trial a conviction is considered by prosecutors to be a success. ... We seriously question the wisdom of spending so much energy, time and resources toward one case."

There's little chance the appeal could actually help Pistorius, but it could hurt him. If the Supreme Court of Appeal overturns the judge's ruling, it would most likely mean his charge will be upgraded to murder.

This video includes images from Getty Images.