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Oscar Pistorius prosecutors file appeal, seeking murder conviction

Canadian Press THE CANADIAN PRESS

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Prosecutors pushing for a murder conviction against Oscar Pistorius have filed papers at South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal.

Court registrar Paul Myburgh said the papers were filed Monday, four days ahead of Pistorius' expected release from prison to be moved to house arrest.

Prosecutors want a panel of judges at the Supreme Court to overrule a decision by another judge to acquit the double-amputee Olympic athlete of murder for killing girlfriend Reva Steenkamp in 2013. Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, for shooting Steenkamp through a toilet cubicle door in his home.

He was sentenced to five years in jail.

Pistorius is expected to be released from prison Friday after serving 10 months of his culpable homicide sentence. He would serve the remainder under house arrest.

In an interview with AdvocateDaily.com, Toronto criminal lawyer John Rosen says he isn’t "at all surprised" that the prosecution is appealing – though he points to the lengthy period of time it has taken for prosecutors to file their notice for an appeal. 

Rosen says the judgment raised some questions for him about the evidence on which Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide (manslaughter in Canada) and not murder.

Rosen, partner at Rosen Naster LLP, says there is a question of jurisdiction related to whether the South African court will hear an appeal by the prosecution. He says in Canada the prosecution can only appeal – in matters where there has been a judgment or verdict – on grounds that involve a question of law, not on fact, as outlined in s. 676 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

"Where there has been a trial and a verdict, Canadian prosecutors can only appeal on a ground involving a question of law," he says. "They have to relate it to a question of law and I would think the South African law is very similar to ours," he says. 

© 2015 The Canadian Press

- With files from AdvocateDaily.com 

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