Pistorius Challenges Ruling on Appeal of Manslaughter Verdict

Oscar Pistorius is mounting a legal challenge against a South African high court ruling that gave prosecutors a second chance to seek a murder conviction against the paralympian for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The defence team has lodged an application to challenge the ruling that cleared the way for the state to approach the Supreme Court of Appeal, Brian Webber, Pistorius’s attorney, said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement.

“We will argue that these are matters of fact rather than matters of law,” according to the statement. The application is scheduled to be heard on March 13.

Judge Thokozile Masipa on Dec. 10 granted the prosecution permission to appeal her ruling that cleared Pistorius, 28, of murder charges after an eight-month trial. The National Prosecuting Authority filed a notice to appeal the Paralympic gold medalist’s manslaughter verdict on Feb. 9, seeking a murder conviction.

The athlete killed Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013 when he fired four hollow-point bullets through a bathroom door in his home in Pretoria, the capital, at what he said he believed was an intruder.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued that Pistorius must have known his actions would lead to the death of the person and called his five-year jail term “shockingly inappropriate.” His sentence in Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru prison can be commuted to house arrest after 10 months.

Known as the Blade Runner because of his J-shaped prosthetic blades, Pistorius was the first double-amputee runner to compete in the Olympic Games. Born without fibula in both legs, which were amputated when he was 11 months old, Pistorius won six Paralympic gold medals.

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