News

Pistorius ordered to undergo mental evaluation

Pistorius ordered to undergo mental evaluation

ON TRIAL:The court will likely use the evaluation to determine whether Pistorius lacked "criminal capacity" at the time of the shooting due to his mental disorder. Photo: Associated Press

PRETORIA (Reuters) – A South African court on Wednesday ordered Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius to undergo evaluation for mental illness – a move which could determine whether he lacked criminal capacity when he shot dead his girlfriend.

The prosecution had asked for the evaluation after a psychiatrist told the court on Monday that Pistorius, who is on trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14 last year, suffered from an anxiety disorder.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has argued he wanted to prevent the 27-year-old sprinter, who faces life in prison if convicted, from later appealing on the basis of a disturbed mental condition.

Defense lawyer Barry Roux had argued against the motion, saying it was premature to have the evaluation before he called other witnesses.

But Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that a mental assessment would ensure that Pistorius gets a fair trial, adding that she thought it “strange” that the defense had opposed the motion.

Masipa said the court would hand down the details of the assessment on Tuesday. It would be preferable for Pistorius to undergo the evaluation as an outpatient, she said.

Pistorius, who has frequently vomited into a bucket and broken down sobbing during the trial, showed no emotion as he stood in the dock listening to Masipa’s ruling.

“As a family we are comforted by the thoroughness and detail of this judgement,” his uncle Arnold Pistorius told reporters outside the courthouse.

The evaluation is expected to take around 30 days and will prolong the trial which began on March 3.

The court will likely use the evaluation to determine whether Pistorius lacked “criminal capacity” at the time of the shooting due to his mental disorder, South African lawyer and legal expert John Welch said.

In that case, Pistorius could be sent to a mental institution for the rest of his life, Welch said. If Pistorius is judged to have a “diminished criminal capacity” the trial would continue, although the track star could receive a lesser sentence if convicted.

Pistorius has denied he killed Steenkamp in cold blood, saying he shot four times at the toilet door of his luxury Pretoria home to protect himself from what he thought was an intruder.

Pistorius competed against able-bodied sprinters on carbon-fibre prosthetics, becoming one of the most recognized names in athletics. He won a clutch of Paralympic medals and reached the semi-finals of the 400m at the London 2012 Olympics.

(Reporting by Siyabong Sishi, Nomatter Ndebele and Ndundu Sithole, Writing by David Dolan, Editing by Ed Stoddard and Angus MacSwan)

News

in Entertainment

Kate Upton, Lea Michelle to play best pals in new comedy

Fresh
Kate Upton arrives at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Kate Upton and Lea Michele have teamed up for a new William H. Macy comedy called "The Layover."

in National

New York buildings collapse in possible gas blast

Fresh
Firefighters battle a fire at the site of a residential apartment building collapse and fire in New York City's East Village neighborhood, March 26, 2015.

Four apartment buildings in New York City caught fire from an apparent gas explosion, causing 19 injuries.

in National

Oil price falls as Middle East supply fears ease

Fresh
A general view shows oil tanks at the Bashneft-Ufimsky refinery plant (Bashneft - UNPZ) outside Ufa, Bashkortostan, January 29, 2015.

Oil prices fell more than $1 a barrel on Friday as worries receded over the Saudi Arabia-led air strikes in Yemen.

in National

Germanwings co-pilot had serious depressive episode

Fresh
Andreas Lubitz runs the Airportrace half marathon in Hamburg in this September 13, 2009 file photo.

The German pilot believed to have deliberately crashed a plane in the French Alps suffered from depression, a German newspaper reported.

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: March 27

beatles

A look back on Hollywood headlines of years past.