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Pistorius' murder acquittal can be appealed

A South African judge gave prosecutors permission. The Olympian could face a mandatory 15-year term.

NAIROBI, Kenya - Oscar Pistorius may yet face a murder conviction after South African prosecutors Wednesday were given permission by the trial judge to appeal her acquittal of the Olympic athlete on the charge.

Pistorius would face a mandatory 15-year prison sentence if the acquittal is reversed by the Supreme Court of Appeal instead of the five-year term he was given after Judge Thokozile Masipa found him guilty in September of culpable homicide.

Masipa said Wednesday that there was more than a remote chance the prosecution would succeed in its appeal before the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel failed, however, in his bid to convince Masipa that her October sentence of the double amputee athlete was "shockingly inappropriate" and was refused permission to appeal for a stiffer sentence. Under South Africa's legal system, Pistorius is eligible for release from prison after serving 10 months.

Prosecutors still have the option of petitioning the Supreme Court to enable an appeal against the original sentence.

The Pistorius trial enthralled global audiences as a man seen as a global icon for advancing the cause of disabled people had to answer for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius had been the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games.

He shot and killed Steenkamp, firing four shots into an enclosed toilet off his bathroom in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year, claiming he believed she was a burglar.

The prosecution argued it was murder, since he was a trained gun enthusiast who fired repeatedly into the cubicle knowing there was a person inside and knowing his actions would likely kill that person.

The prosecution can only appeal on the basis that the judge in the case made a legal error.