A South African judge delayed a ruling Tuesday on whether to allow prosecutors to appeal former Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius’ five-year prison sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The prosecution sought permission to appeal the decision, which it described as “shockingly inappropriate.”
“I want to think about it,” Pretoria High Court Judge Thokozile Masipa said Tuesday, according to The Telegraph. The hearing on a possible appeal is expected to conclude Wednesday. Pistorius remains at a prison facility in Pretoria and did not attend Tuesday’s hearing.
Pistorius, 28, was convicted in October for culpable homicide in the shooting death of Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. Throughout the trial, the athlete known as “Blade Runner” remained insistent that he thought he was defending himself from a home invader when he shot his girlfriend four times through a bathroom door. Masipa opted to acquit him on a more serious charge of murder. Under the terms of his current sentence, Pistorius could be released into house arrest after 10 months.
State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Masipa misinterpreted South African law in his initial ruling. The prosecution hopes to reinstate the murder charge in a prospective appeal. “Based on all the evidence, perhaps the element of mercy was over-exaggerated,” Nel said, according to Reuters. Nel argued a 10-year term would have been adequate, ABC News reports.
If approved, South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein would preside over the case. If denied, Nel can still state her case for an appeal before the Supreme Court. “Not enough emphasis was placed on the horrendous manner in which the deceased died, coupled with the gruesome injuries she sustained when the accused shot and killed her,” Nel said in a November statement that asked permission for an appeal.
Pistorius’ lawyers oppose the appeal and argued the sentence was just. “It’s incorrect to say it’s a light sentence. It’s not,” defense lawyer Barry Roux said, according to the BBC. … “[The prosecution’s] problem is they don’t like your factual finding. They don’t appreciate that. You absolutely, correctly applied the law.”