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

3 hours ago in Entertainment

Judge rules Bill Cosby must stand trial on sexual assault charges

Updated
15-overlay-11

A Pennsylvania judge ordered entertainer Bill Cosby to stand trial on sexual assault charges over allegations that he drugged and assaulted a woman in 2004.

3 hours ago in Entertainment

Video gaming returns to TV with new league

gamingREUTERS

Competitive video gaming returns to TV with the launch of a 10-week gaming league that will be broadcast on TBS.

4 hours ago in Entertainment

Changes are coming to Twitter

twitterREUTERS

User names and attachments - including photos and videos - will no longer count towards the length of a tweet, but the 140-character limit will stay.

4 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Pink Panther’ star Burt Kwouk dies at 85

burtkwoukREUTERS

He also starred in numerous films, among them three James Bond movies including "Goldfinger."

7 hours ago in Entertainment

Watch Hank Azaria’s ‘Simpsons’ inspired commencement speech

10-overlay-8

"The Simpsons" star brings out some of his classic animated characters to address the graduates of Tufts University.