By giving Pistorius a lenient sentence of only five years, Judge Masipa has probably screwed him up. The Prosecution (like the rest of the world?) had certainly not accepted the verdict of ‘not guilty to murder’. The Prosecution had had a month to dwell on that, before asking for a minimum ten years jail for his actual conviction of ‘culpable homicide’ – and they didn’t get it did they? If they had, then the Pistorius legal saga would probably have been over by now.
The Pistorius Camp were, we thought, surprisingly acceptant about him serving serious jail time – until it came out that in fact he could be out in under a year! We all knew then, that he had got off, got away with it indeed. The Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has been consistently demonstrably aggressive towards Pistorius’ defence case, and it seemed obvious to everybody surely that the authorities would be desperate to Appeal to a higher court?
In South Africa such an Appeal has to be on a point of SA law. A number of their own legal gurus have criticised and disputed the learned Judge Masipa’s application of the Law – so it was on the cards then that Pistorius’ conviction rank would be back in the Courts, didn’t you think?
The trial Judge will of course have the first right to decide if the Appeal against her judgements can go ahead, but if she declines, you can expect the matter to then go to the Supreme Court, as the prosecution still have the bit between their teeth and the support of most their national public, it is said.
Any Appeal submission is likely to include a challenge to Judge Masipa’s legal conclusion of ‘murder acquittal’ because Pistorius did not foresee (though he ‘should’ have) that firing four shots into a tiny room would kill the person in there – and that will be claimed was a misapplication of the principle where awareness of the likely outcome of an action is legally accountable in SA. It would be surprising if the prosecution don’t though have more than one legal challenge – perhaps three?
Within a few days now the authorities will formally submit their case, both against conviction & sentence – only then we will know the legal grounds and actual details; but ‘when’ is anybody’s guess. How long it takes for Judge Masipa to pronounce on such an Appeal is also indeterminate (as she has taken so diligently long so far in this trial to deal with things that one can only fear the worst, can’t one?).
Like many Appeals it simply enters a legal argument if it goes ahead, so don’t expect a postscript Act in the Pistorius Trial Theatre performance, we have previously witnessed, will you? [No more evidence & witnesses thank goodness].
An amazing puzzle still though surely to most watchers, is how someone accused of premeditated murder, ultimately convicted of a major crime and sent to jail, was given unconditional bail for so long before trial and allowed to live a year’s life of luxury & utter freedom?
[If Pistorius is eventually convicted of ‘murder’ (but that is by no means certain) then the disgrace cannot be brushed under the carpet, as intended by his family, and he will never in future be able to disassociate himself from his behaviour in his personal life, nor the consequences of his gun obsession & Reeva Steenkamp’s killing]