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Why Oscar Pistorius's request to appeal murder conviction failed

Pistorius' bail hearing began on the 19th of February to widespread public interest and it was there that the first details of the crime became apparent. The prosecution and the defense both claimed that Pistorius had fired 4 shots through a locked toilet door, however Gerrie Nel - leading the prosecution - claimed the act was pre-meditated and that Pistorius had intentionally shot Steenkamp following a dispute. Pistorius argued that he was under the impression Steenkamp had been in bed and the person behind the locked door was an intruder. Pistorius was formally indicted on a charge of murder and a date and judge for his trial were chosen - all trials in South Africa are by judge only, following the abolishment of trial by jury during apartheid.
Oscar Pistorius has been denied the chance to appeal against his murder conviction, three years after the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled that an appeal would have no realistic prospect of success. The decision clears the way for an April sentencing, reports CNN.
Pistorius was initially convicted of culpable homicide in 2014 and sentenced to five years in prison for killing Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria. The former Paralympian shot her through a locked bathroom door.
He was released last year to serve the rest of his sentence under house detention at his uncle's home in Pretoria.
In December, the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned his conviction on a point of law and he was found guilty of murder. He was released on bail with an electronic monitoring device and only permitted to travel a limited distance between 7am and noon.
The original verdict rested on Judge Thokozile Masipa accepting Pistorius's claim that he believed he was firing at an intruder. However, as the athlete had shot another person, whoever he believed it to be, he was found guilty of culpable homicide.

Judge Masipa held back from a murder conviction on the very specific legal principle of dolus eventualis, saying there was not enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Pistorius had foreseen his actions would result in a death. It was on this point that the Supreme Court of Appeal disagreed.
Arguing for an appeal, Pistorius's legal team said the second court had ignored his vulnerability as a person with a disability and had wrongly rejected the original judgment that he had acted out of fear when he opened fire. However, this was dismissed by the Constitutional Court on 3 March, meaning resentencing will take place on 18 April.
What will happen at the resentencing?
Pistorius will return to the high court, where a judge will reconsider his sentence.
The defence is expected to put forward mitigating factors in a bid to negotiate a lesser sentence than the prescribed minimum of 15 years in prison, minus time already served.
Criminal law expert Tyrone Maseko told South Africa's 702 radio station there would have to be "substantial and compelling" reasons to depart from the minimum sentence. He said it was "not easy" to succeed, unless there are concrete reasons why leniency should be shown.
A spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa has confirmed the state will be seeking the full 15-year term.
The defence and prosecution may well set out their cases in front of the original trial judge, Thokozile Masipa, although Maseko said another judge could stand in if she is not available.
Commentators in South Africa have described the resentencing as the "final conclusion" in the trial, which began in 2014 and has crossed several courts within the criminal justice system. But while Pistorius cannot appeal his conviction, he could theoretically appeal his sentence.

Culled from: http://www.theweek.co.uk

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