South African judges to give ruling on Pistorius appeal at a later date

Supreme court judges in South Africa have reserved their judgment on the Oscar Pistorius appeal until further notice.

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA (NOVEMBER 3, 2015)(REUTERS) – South African Supreme Court judges hearing arguments from state lawyers that a high court judge had made legal errors when she decided not to convict “blade runner” Oscar Pistorius of murder, said on Tuesday (November 3) they would issue their decision at a later date.

The Paralympic gold medallist was freed on parole last month after serving a fifth of the prison term given to him for the “culpable homicide” of Reeva Steenkamp, who he killed on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Prosecutors said Pistorius should be convicted of murder and sent back to jail, while the defence argued that the sentence the athlete had received was appropriate and should stand.

Steenkamp’s mother June, who last week said she did not seek retribution, attended the session in Bloemfontein, 400 km (250 miles) southwest of Johannesburg, but did not make a statement.

Prosecutors said Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp, who they said fled to a toilet during a row. Pistorius shot through the door four times, hitting her.

At the original trial in September last year, high court Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that the state had failed to prove intent or “dolus eventualis”, a legal concept that centres on a person being held responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their actions.

An advocate who watched proceedings from the gallery said: “It’s very difficult to say what the judges will decide in this manner, so one can just merely speculate on the outcome but the whole question on ‘dolus eventualis’ intention to me stand out for the case today,” said Inez Bezuidenhout, Director of University of Free State Law Clinic.

Pistorius himself did not attend the half-day Supreme Court hearing into his highly-charged case, which has prompted a fierce debate in South Africa, and accusations from some rights groups that the white track star got preferential treatment.

The athlete, whose lower legs were amputated when he was a baby, was freed two weeks ago in line with sentencing guidelines that say non-dangerous prisoners should spend only a sixth of a custodial sentence behind bars.

He has not been seen in public since then and is under house arrest that confines him to his uncle’s home in a wealthy Pretoria suburb for the duration of his sentence.