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Pistorius appeal due in December

THE application to appeal against Oscar Pistorius' manslaughter conviction and five-year prison sentence will be heard in a Pretoria court on December 9, according to prosecutors.

It wasn't yet decided if the Olympic runner (inset) would attend the hearing, his lawyer said.

Prosecutors have said Pistorius should have been found guilty of murder for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Their appeal against Judge Thokozile Masipa's initial verdict and sentence has "reasonable prospects" of success, they said.

Masipa found the double-amputee athlete not guilty of murder for shooting Steenkamp through a toilet cubicle door in his home, ruling that Pistorius did not intend to kill when he fired four times.

Pistorius, a multiple Paralympic champion who ran at the 2012 Olympics on carbon-fibre blades, was instead convicted of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, by Masipa because she said he acted negligently. Pistorius testified he mistook Steenkamp for a nighttime intruder in his home when he killed her in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14, 2013.

His five-year sentence means he could be released after serving 10 months in jail to complete the sentence under house arrest at his uncle's luxurious home, a punishment previously described as "shockingly light" by prosecutors.

If Pistorius is found guilty of murder on the appeal, he would face a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Pistorius' defence team "would be very nervous" if the case was referred to the Supreme Court of Appeal, legal expert Marius du Toit said, because of the chance of a murder conviction.