DISGRACED Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius could yet be convicted of murder despite his acquittal earlier this year after state prosecutors were granted permission to appeal yesterday.
Pistorius was in September found guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day last year.
The South African was later sentenced to five years in prison, though the decision meant he could be out as soon as August in order to serve the remainder of the term on house arrest.
Now double-amputee Pistorius could instead face life imprisonment, after judge Thokozile Masipa agreed that the chances of an appeal against her original verdict succeeding were “not remote”.
Judge Masipa rejected the prosecution’s appeal against the athlete’s five-year sentence, though South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal has the power to overturn it anyway if it sees fit.
The appeal is expected to be heard next year, and Pistorius is set to remain in the hospital wing of Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru II prison during the process.
Pistorius’s defence team had opposed the appeal, which his father Henke said yesterday “should not have gone this far”. He added: “Oscar is strong, he has to be strong, he grew up like that. There are lots of things in life, especially for a man like him that are not fair.”
The 28-year-old, who made history by competing at both the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, denied murder, arguing that he shot model and law graduate Steenkamp by mistake, thinking she was an intruder.