A South African judge has delayed ruling on whether to allow the prosecution to appeal Oscar Pistorius’s five-year prison sentence for killing his girlfriend.
After listening to arguments from both sides, Thokozile Masipa adjourned the hearing until Wednesday, saying: “I want to think about it.”
Prosecutors described the term for manslaughter imposed on the Paralympic star in October as “shockingly inappropriate,” as they sought to open the door to a tougher sentence.
The double-amputee, who is serving his sentence in a Pretoria prison over the killing of Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013, was not in court on Tuesday.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued Masipa misinterpreted the law when she ruled at the end of a sensational trial that Pistorius did not intentionally shoot his 29-year-old girlfriend.
“The precedent set by this court is shockingly low,” said Nel.
Legal experts and sources involved in the case say they expect Masipa to allow the appeal ahead, opening the way for Pistorius to possibly face a tougher murder charge.
Pistorius admitted shooting Steenkamp four times through a locked toilet door at his upmarket Pretoria home but told his trial he thought she was an intruder.
Masipa found him guilty of culpable homicide, also known as manslaughter, and sentenced him to five years in jail.
Under South African law he could end up serving just 10 months of his jail term.
Defence lawyer Barry Roux argued the sentence against the 28-year-old Pistorius was just.
“It’s incorrect to say it’s a light sentence, it’s not,” said Roux. “What we’re actually dealing with is an academic debate.”
Experts said they expect Masipa to give the state a “lashing” about their handling of the case, before sending the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.
If Masipa refuses to grant the appeal, the state can petition a higher court.