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Friday 19 September 2014

Pistorius should be ‘put under psychiatric evaluation’

Oscar Pistorius waits to see if he will be sent for metal evaluation, as the trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp continues

Published 13/05/2014 | 10:48

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Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria

THE chief prosecutor in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius has asked that the runner be placed under psychiatric evaluation after an expert witness testified that he had an anxiety disorder.

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Prosecutor Gerrie Nel noted that a psychiatrist for the defence said the disorder she diagnosed in Pistorius could have played a role in his fatal shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in February last year.

Mr Nel has acknowledged that an evaluation of Pistorius's state of mind at a government facility could mean the trial will be delayed. Yesterday he referred to a 30-day evaluation period.

Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot her. Prosecutors say he killed her in anger after an argument.

Judge Thokozile Masipa ordered an adjournment and said she would rule on Mr Nel's request tomorrow morning.

The prosecutor questioned why the defence asked psychiatrist Merryll Vorster to testify on behalf of the Olympic runner. He has suggested that the trial is not going well for Pistorius and his lawyers are floating the idea that a disorder contributed to Steenkamp's shooting and that therefore Pistorius bears less responsibility for her death.

In asking for another professional evaluation of Pistorius's mental state, Mr Nel appeared to be trying to ward off any attempt by the defence to say Pistorius should be treated favourably by the court because of a mental condition linked to his disability.

Pistorius's chief lawyer Barry Roux said at the start of defence-led evidence that the double amputee's vulnerability and disability was at the centre of his case of a mistaken killing. He said Pistorius should not be sent for 30 days of psychiatric evaluation and that he wanted to call another witness to continue evidence.

Ms Vorster met Pistorius this month, prompting the prosecutor to question whether the timing of her late entry to the stable of witnesses signified a change in tactics by the defence, which has said Pistorius fired out of fear that he was about to be attacked.

 

 

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