Oscar Pistorius

Associated Press
Oscar Pistorius, gestures,  at the end of the fourth day of  sentencing proceedings in the high court in Pretoria,  South Africa, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. Following the testimony hearing, which is expected to end this week, Judge Thokozile Masipa will rule on what punishment Pistorius must serve after convicting him of culpable homicide for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a toilet door in his home.(AP Photo/Alon Skuy, Pool)

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South African prosecutors on Wednesday won their bid to appeal the culpable homicide verdict handed down to athlete Oscar Pistorius for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and will now seek a murder conviction.

The decision could leave Pistorius open to a prison sentence of at least 15 years if he is convicted of murder.

"I cannot say the prospect of success at the Supreme Court is remote," Judge Thokozile Masipa said in granting the appeal.

The Olympic and Paralympic track star, aged 28, is currently serving prison time after being convicted in October of culpable homicide after a seven-month trial.

He has admitted killing Steenkamp on Feb.14, 2013, by firing four shots into the locked door of a toilet cubicle in what he said was the mistaken belief an intruder was hiding behind it.

Masipa said during sentencing that the state failed to convince her of Pistorius' intent to kill when he fired.

But state prosecutor Gerrie Nel said in his application to appeal that the judgment was "shockingly inappropriate" and argued that even if Pistorius did not know Steenkamp was behind the door when he fired, he showed intent to kill whoever was there.

In granting the application, Masipa said the prosecution's points were questions of law and should therefore go to the Supreme Court of Appeal for consideration.

South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) welcomed the decision.


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