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State prosecutor Gerrie Nel is seen during an appeal hearing brought by prosecutors against the six year jail term handed to Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Themba Hadebe/Pool

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who oversaw the conviction of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, has resigned from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), its spokesman said on Tuesday.

Lead prosecutor Nel is a veteran lawyer known for his ability to take on the powerful and politically connected. His biggest scalp is former police chief and Interpol head Jackie Selebi, who was convicted of corruption in 2010.

During the Pistorius trial, Nel painstakingly crafted a picture of Pistorius as a cold-blooded killer who fired through a door at his cowering girlfriend. For his no-nonsense attitude, Nel earned the nickname 'The Bull Dog' as a prosecutor.

Pistorius says he shot dead Steenkamp by accident after mistaking her for an intruder in his house.

"We confirm that advocate Gerrie Nel tendered his resignation on the 30th of January," said the NPA's spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku.

He said the resignation "is effective today (Tuesday)" and that Nel said he was resigning to pursue other interests.

Nel was not available to comment.

Pistorius was sentenced to six years in prison in July after being found guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on appeal last December. The track star originally received a five-year sentence for a manslaughter conviction, that was upgraded to murder on appeal.

Nel was challenging Pistorius' six year sentence, arguing it was too lenient as it was less than half the 15-years that state prosecutors sought.

(Reporting by James Macharia; Editing by Dominic Evans)

Reuters