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South Africa prosecutors to oppose Pistorius' appeal against conviction

State lawyers have said they will oppose Oscar Pistorius' bid to appeal for a lesser conviction after he was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend. The Constitutional Court would be the athlete's final legal recourse.

In an affidavit addressed to the Constitutional Court, prosecutors argued that the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) had rightly found Pistorius guilty and that there was "no reasonable prospect of success" for the athlete's appeal.

"It is our respectful submission that the SCA committed no errors of law and that the arguments by the applicant are without merit and contrived," lawyers of the National Prosecuting Authority wrote.

Pistorius served one year of his five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide after killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013. He was released on bail last October and has been living under house arrest at his uncle's property in Pretoria.

Reeva Steenkamp

Steenkamp died on February 14, 2013

In December, the SCA overturned the 29-year-old's earlier conviction, upgrading it to murder, and described his testimony as "untruthful." Pistorius' lawyers said the SCA had "acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally" and decided to appeal to the Constitutional Court, the highest court in South Africa.

Pistorius' lawyer, Barry Roux, said the appeal would ask for a retrial, considering that Pistorius fired the fatal shots because he felt Steenkamp and his life were in danger from intruders. The athlete said he killed his girlfriend after mistaking her for an intruder and shooting four times through the locked door of his bathroom toilet.

The Constitutional Court will decide whether to hear the case. If the court holds the SCA's decision to be correct, Pistorius could face up to 15 years in jail.

The sprinter and double amputee, also known as "Blade Runner" because of the carbon fiber prosthetic blades he uses to run, killed his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day in 2013.

mg/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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