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Masipa expected to grant leave to appeal Pistorius verdict

Prosecutors want Judge Masipa to allow them to go to the SCA to challenge her verdict and sentence.

FILE: Judge Thokozile Masipa listens to evidence during the Oscar Pistorius murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria on 9 May 2014.

PRETORIA - Prosecutors in the case against Oscar Pistorius have asked Judge Thokozile Masipa to allow them to go directly to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein to challenge her verdict and sentence.

Prosecutors yesterday filed legal papers applying to appeal Masipa's decisions.

They claim the runner's sentence is shockingly light, inappropriate and would not have been imposed by any reasonable court.

Pistorius is currently serving a five year prison term for the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

Prosecutors have asked whether Masipa correctly applied the principles of dolus eventualis to the objective facts.

They're arguing that Masipa did not discuss, accept or reject the circumstantial evidence presented to her.

University of Cape Town criminal law expert, Kelly Phelps, says the state is simply challenging Masipa's application of the rule of objecto.

"The state really is saying the judge misapplied the rule of error in objecto and therefore also misapplied the definition of dolus eventualis and the way that the putative defence should operate in this case."

While many legal experts believe it's crucial for the appeal to be heard to get clarity on the interpretation of the law, Phelps is of the view that the judgment was correct and the law should not be altered.

Legal experts are divided on whether leave to appeal against Pistorius's conviction and sentence should be granted, but most agree that it will be.

Phelps says although she stands by her view, she is sure Masipa will grant the appeal.

"I think that it's very likely she will grant the appeal nonetheless because of all the scrutiny on this case, and I think she won't want to be seen as protective of her own judgment."