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State allowed to appeal Oscar murder acquittal

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The prosecution in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial has been awarded the right to appeal his murder acquittal, after a ruling by Judge Thokozile Masipa on Wednesday. This comes as the state suggested Masipa was incorrect in her application of the legal principle of dolus eventualis, or legal intention, when delivering her original verdict.

The application of leave to appeal also included the possibility of challenging the 5-year jail sentence given to the famed Paralympian. However, that application was rejected by Judge Masipa. The matter will now be taken to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

Prior to the ruling, there had been several questions over the likelihood of Pistorius being granted bail. But speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beaton Wednesday morning, defence attorney and legal expert William Booth, expressed doubt over whether bail was actually probable. He noted that in most cases, leave of appeal was usually granted when the accused was unhappy with the verdict or sentencing.

In the Pistorius case however, the state had been the one to launch an application over what they deemed a legal issue. This meant that since the application did not come from the defence itself; there were doubts over whether he could be granted bail.

“I have my doubts over whether legally such an application for bail can be done. It would be extremely unusual in my opinion,” he said.

Whilst the appeal is directed at the sport stars acquittal of murder, the prosecution was barred from actually appealing the culpable homicide ruling. This limitation of the states freedom to appeal is largely due to the ‘Seekoei case’ in 1982. The result of this case was that the State could not appeal a conviction when it was made on a ‘competent verdict’.

By appealing the sentence itself, the State had also sought to extend the length of Pistorius’ conviction.

“If they get leave to appeal on either or both and the matter goes to the Supreme Court of Appeal, possibly in a couple of months time, then you are sitting in a situation where that court might change the sentence. It could increase the sentence,” said Booth, prior to the application being granted.

The appeal is likely to take place between early and mid 2015. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)


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