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Wed Aug 24 08:24:12 CAT 2016

Oscar's hopes run thin

AFP | 12 January, 2016 06:30
Oscar Pistorius in the dock at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. File photo.
Image by: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius yesterday made a last-ditch attempt to overturn his murder conviction for fatally shooting his girlfriend in 2013.

He has been on bail awaiting a new sentence since December, when Supreme Court of Appeal judges found him guilty of murder, overturning his earlier conviction on the lesser charge of culpable homicide. Pistorius has now approached the Constitutional Court.

The double-amputee killed Reeva Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, in the early hours of Valentine's Day, saying he mistook her for an intruder when he shot four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.

Under the new conviction for murder, Pistorius, 29, faces a minimum 15-year jail term that might be reduced due to time already spent in jail and the fact that he is a first-time offender.

"We have lodged an application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court," Andrew Fawcett, a lawyer on Pistorius's legal team, said.

Pistorius was released from jail in October to live under house arrest at his uncle's property in Pretoria after serving one year of his five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide - the equivalent of manslaughter.

But Supreme Court of Appeal judges last month described his testimony at his trial in 2014 as "untruthful" and delivered a damning indictment of the original verdict. Legal papers filed at the Constitutional Court yesterday by Pistorius's lawyers contended that the Supreme Court of Appeal had "acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally" by rejecting factual findings of the original verdict.

They also accused the court of making "errors of law" over the principle of dolus eventualis.

Pistorius was last seen in public at his bail hearing on December 8 in Pretoria High Court, after which he was fitted with an electronic monitoring tag.

Under his bail conditions, he is allowed to leave his uncle's house at set times with official permission, and not travel further than 20km.

Some legal experts have dismissed his chances of success at the Constitutional Court.

Tyron Maseko, a Johannesburg attorney, said: "He is wasting his time. It is certainly not a constitutional matter. If he ever succeeds then I will know there is no justice in this country."

Pistorius shot Steenkamp at the peak of his fame, and he has since lost his glittering sports career, lucrative contracts and status as a global role model for the disabled.

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