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State's bid to appeal Pistorius conviction granted

Judge Thokozile Masipa granted the bid to appeal the conviction, but denied a bid to appeal the sentence.

FILE: Oscar Pistorius leaves the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on 7 August 2014. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

PRETORIA - Judge Thokozile Masipa has this morning granted the State's bid to appeal her conviction of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius on a charge of culpable homicide. However, the bid to appeal the sentence has been denied.

After the athlete was sentenced, the State indicated that it would appeal the conviction and sentence, which it believes are both inappropriately lenient.

Pistorius is serving a five-year sentence after being found guilty of culpable homicide in September for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp four times through a bathroom door on Valentine's Day last year.

Masipa said both prosecutor Gerrie Nel and Pistorius's lawyer Barry Roux argued extensively about whether the appeal would be based on matters of fact or law.

The judge says the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) must now answer these questions regarding her judgment.

"Whether the principles of 'dolus eventualis' were correctly applied. Whether the court correctly applied the legal principles pertaining to circumstantial evidence and or pertaining to multiple defences by an accused."

But she denied the application appeal of his five-year sentence for killing Steenkamp and rejected the state's description of it.

"I am not persuaded that there was any material misdirection or irregularity or that on the facts of this matter the sentence imposed is shockingly inappropriate and induces a sense of shock."

Masipa went through the questions of law that the SCA must look at, specifically dolus eventualis.

She also ordered the State to pay the defence costs for the sentence appeal.

Masipa dismissed the state's claim that the huge public interest in the matter is considered a special circumstance.

Both the state and the defence submitted their legal arguments to the High Court in Pretoria several weeks ago.

On Tuesday, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Masipa incorrectly applied the legal principal of 'dolus eventualis' to the facts and that Pistorius should have been convicted of murder.

But defence advocate Barry Roux said the judge got it right and that Nel was launching an application based on the facts of the case, which is not permitted.

The main points argued by counsel were whether the state raised questions of law or questions of fact.

The respondent argued that the state's questions of law were in fact an attack on the court's findings of fact.

"Having perused the application, I have been persuaded that the questions are questions of law. I cannot say that the prospects of success at the Supreme Court of Appeal are remote."

Get all the latest developments on the _ EWN Oscar Pistorius portal._

For the latest on the Oscar Pistorius appeal, follow the live blog.