30 Jun 2014

Pistorius back in court and declared mentally stable

Oscar Pistorius was not suffering from a mental condition when he shot his girlfriend, according to a psychiatric report.

The South African Paralympic sprinter is on trial accused of murdering model Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius admits shooting Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria, but says he mistook her for an intruder hiding in his toilet.

The trial took a month long break whilst Pistorius underwent a mental evaluation at a hospital in Pretoria. The defence team claimed Pistorius had an anxiety disorder, and Judge Thokozile Masipa said it was important to find out whether the condition affected his criminal responsibility.

Prosecution lawyer Gerrie Nel told the court: “At the time of the alleged offences, the accused did not suffer from a mental disorder or mental defect that affected his ability to distinguish between the rightful or wrongful nature of his deeds.”

Both the prosecution and defence accepted the findings of the psychiatric report, which was produced by a panel of psychiatrists and psychologists.

The trial was originally predicted to last just 17 days but a series of unexpected interruptions and delays means the case is still far from over, three months after it started.

Pistorius is accused of shooting Steenkamp through a locked toilet door in his Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day last year. If found guilty, he could face a life sentence.