Monday, June 30, 2014

South Africa: Psychiatrists: No Evidence of Mental Illness, Impairment to Understand Right from Wrong

According to Reuters, Oscar Pistorius, 27, the South African track star on trial for murder for shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was not suffering from a mental condition that would have impaired his ability to distinguish between right and wrong at the time she was killed, a psychiatric report said on Monday (June 30).

Pistorius, an Olympic and Paralympic sprinter, has admitted to shooting dead his model girlfriend, but maintains he mistook her for an intruder hiding in his toilet in an upscale Pretoria suburb.

The trial, which began in March 2014, took a month-long break to allow the 27-year-old to undergo a mental evaluation at Pretoria's Weskoppies Hospital after a forensic psychologist brought by the defense testified that Pistorius had an anxiety disorder.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said it was important to find out whether or not the condition affected his criminal responsibility. 

COMMENT: As I have said from the outset of the homicide, my concern all along has surrounded the fact that some firearms owners are responsible, safe and comprehend when NOT to shoot, while others will always be UNSAFE and unpredictable.

"At the time of the alleged offenses, 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," Prosecutor Gerrie Nel read from a report submitted to the court. 

Both Nel and defense lawyer Barry Roux accepted the findings of a panel of psychiatrists and psychologists after 30 days of evaluation.

During the trial, prosecutors have tried to paint a picture of a self-obsessed Pistorius who knowingly killed his law graduate girlfriend as she cowered behind a locked bathroom door.

Pistorius could face a life sentence if found guilty of the shooting on Valentine's Day last year.