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Pistorius trial: Athlete's mental state in focus

Judge Thokozile Masipa will rule on Wednesday whether the athlete should be sent for mental observation.

Oscar Pistorius during his murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria on 13 May 2014. Picture: Pool.
Local

PRETORIA – Murder accused Oscar Pistorius’s personality was again the focus of evidence in court on Tuesday before the state launched its application to have him referred for psychological evaluation. 

Oscar Pistorius during his murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria on 13 May 2014. Picture: Pool.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel lodged his application to have the athlete referred after the defence’s psychiatrist concluded presenting her testimony.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel questions a defence witness during the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius at the High Court in Pretoria on 6 May 2014. Picture: Pool.

Professor Merryll Vorster diagnosed the accused with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

The 27-year-old Paralympic and Olympic athlete is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his upmarket Pretoria East home on Valentine’s Day last year.

Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot dead by boyfriend Oscar Pistorius on 14 February 2013, was laid to rest in Port Elizabeth on 19 February 2013. Picture: Renee de Villiers/EWN.


The ‘Blade Runner’ says he shot the model by accident, while the state maintains it is a case of premeditated murder.

Vorster said Pistorius's GAD may have had an impact on his actions on the night Steenkamp was killed.

She said the athlete’s newer friends were people he couldn't confide in. 

But she said while he was affected by the anxiety order, he was able to function as a professional athlete and maintain a social life. 

Vorster said growing up, Pistorius was always encouraged to be as normal as possible, which would have been stressful because he concealed that he actually had a disability. 

The psychiatrist said Pistorius had a heightened concern for security and told her he wanted to move to Johannesburg to be safer, and live in a house with greater security provision.

Judge Thokozile Masipa will decide tomorrow whether or not Pistorius will be sent for mental observation.

Judge Thokozile Masipa listens to evidence during the Oscar Pistorius murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria on 9 May 2014.


ARGUMENTS

Advocate Barry Roux argued that the state simply wanted a second opinion about the athlete’s mental state, but said this was premature because they would call another expert to testify about Pistorius’s vulnerability.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux looks on during the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius at the High Court in Pretoria on 13 May 2014. Picture: Pool.

Nel said the fact that Roux believes that even after another witness is called the state will still apply for this application indicates that he is on the right track.

He said if Pistorius’s anxiety played a role in his actions, then he must be evaluated.

Nel  referred to case law, saying if the matter gets to an appeals court, questions will be asked about why nothing was done about the psychological diagnosis.

Roux disagreed, saying it is merely an allegation that Pistorius has a mental illness.

Get all the latest on the EWN Oscar Pistorius Portal.


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