Pistorius lawyers fight appeal while he awaits parole decision

SEPTEMBER 17, 2015

As Oscar Pistorius awaits a decision on his parole on Friday, his legal team is fighting an appeal by the State on his conviction for culpable homicide, which could see him stay in jail for many more years.

The former Paralympian's lawyers are arguing that the Supreme Court of Appeal cannot overturn the culpable homicide conviction handed down by Judge Thokozile Masipa last year in favour of a more serious verdict of murder when he shot dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, through a locked toilet door on Valentines Day 2013.

In papers filed with the Supreme Court of Appeal on Wednesday, Pistorius' lawyer, Barry Roux, also argues the his cleint cannot afford a new trial, which would be too long and complex.

Roux said his initial trial was subject to intense public scrutiny, which would "contaminate and confuse" the reliability and objectivity of witnesses and proceedings in a new trial.

The State’s appeal against his culpable homicide conviction is due to be heard in November. 

Judge Masipa's finding that the shooting was accidental has been slammed by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), which argues that it is not legally sound.

The NPA maintains that Pistorius knew that Reeva was behind that door and that if he fired his gun, whoever was behind it, would die. It would have preferred to see the Paralympian convicted of committing murder with indirect intent.

Pistorius’s lawyers argue that the State does not have a legal basis to bring its appeal in the first place – because their challenge isn’t based on Judge Masipa's legal interpretation but rather her evaluation of the evidence.

They claim that the best route for the State would be to apply for a re-trial, which would be grossly unfair as that would violate the principle of double jeopardy, which states that no person can be tried for the same crime twice.