Africa

Friday 25 July 2014

Oscar Pistorius trial: Athlete's psychiatrist suffers heart attack

Published 27/06/2014|18:49

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Oscar Pistorius in court for his ongoing murder trial in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, May 12, 2014

A psychiatrist assessing Oscar Pistorius' mental health has suffered a heart attack just before the athlete's murder trial resumes on Monday.

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Dr Leon Fine suffered a heart attack on Thursday night but it is understood his condition will not affect proceedings, although he has not yet signed the athlete's medical report, according to South Africa's eNCA News.

Dr Fine was part of a panel of experts tasked to determine whether the athlete's mental health played a part in the fatal shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

Pistorius checked-in as an outpatient at Pretoria's Weskoppies psychiatric hospital on 26 May and has been assessed for seven hours a day. He was ordered to undergo a 30-day psychiatric evaluation last month after an expert defence witness claimed he suffers from a generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).

The prosecution called into question her diagnosis and insisted that, facing "at least three defences" and a potential appeal on the basis of mental illness, the court needed an independent assessment. His defence team initially opposed the prosecution's request.

If convicted of murder, which the athlete denies, Pistorius faces a mandatory life sentence which usually carries a minimum of 25 years in jail, though mitigation could reduce it in this case.

If found guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, he could face 15 years or a non-custodial sentence.

The murder trial is set to resume on Monday, where the results of his psychiatric evaluation will be read at the North Guateng High Court.

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