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Oscar appeal ‘has no chance of success’

Oscar Pistorius Reeva Steenkamp shooting

Oscar Pistorius

THERE is no reasonable prospect that the Constitutional Court will overturn Oscar Pistorius’s murder conviction and the highest court in the country should not entertain his appeal.

This is the opinion the prosecution expressed in its papers opposing Pistorius’s application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court.

In an affidavit, prosecutor Andrea Johnson said the Supreme Court of Appeal had made no errors in law and did not exceed its jurisdiction, as Pistorius’s lawyers have argued.

The High Court in Pretoria found Pistorius, guilty of culpable homicide in September 2014 for shooting and killing his model and law-graduate girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, while believing she was an intruder.

But the appeal court overturned the judgment last year, replacing it with a murder conviction and referring the case back to the High Court for sentencing. Ms Johnson asked the Constitutional Court to refuse to hear Pistorius’s appeal, saying it was not in the interests of justice because the law on dolus eventualis was clear and Pistorius had no prospect of success.

“I submit that it is in the interests of justice that criminal trials ought to be finalised without undue delay and submit that it is in the interests of justice that the applicant (Pistorius) now appears before the trial court to be sentenced on the crime he has committed,” she said.

Criminal law expert Llewellyn Curlewis said although the Constitutional Court had wide discretion on which cases it could attend to as it was no longer limited to dealing with constitutional matters, it should not hear Pistorius’s case.

“Having read the petition by the defence team and the National Prosecuting Authority’s affidavit, I am not convinced that there are new matters of law raised that require the attention of the Constitutional Court.”

Mr Curlewis said the Supreme Court of Appeal seemed to be correct in its interpretation of the law.

In Pistorius’s application to the Constitutional Court, his lawyer, Andrew Fawcett, said the appeal court could consider only questions of law and overstepped its bounds by considering facts when it rejected the High Court in Pretoria’s finding that he had acted out of fear in a belief that his and Steenkamp’s lives were in danger.

Ms Johnson said the appeal court correctly rejected Pistorius’s reliance on putative self-defence and applied the legal principles correctly to the facts accepted by the trial

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