Newspaper article International New York Times

Psychiatric Assessment Finds Pistorius Fit

Newspaper article International New York Times

Psychiatric Assessment Finds Pistorius Fit

Article excerpt

The psychiatric assessments concluded that Oscar Pistorius was not mentally ill when he killed his girlfriend last year.

The trial of Oscar Pistorius, the disabled South African track star, resumed on Monday after psychiatric assessments that could have derailed the proceedings concluded that he was not mentally ill when he killed his girlfriend last year.

The trial, in the South African capital, Pretoria, had been suspended since mid-May while Mr. Pistorius, 27, underwent tests at the Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital. If the evaluation had found serious mental impairment, his trial could have ended abruptly.

The prosecution says he murdered his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, in a jealous rage after an argument, but Mr. Pistorius says he shot her by mistake, believing that an intruder had entered his home and was hiding in a toilet cubicle when he fired four shots through the door.

Before the postponement, a defense witness said Mr. Pistorius suffered from a general anxiety disorder stemming from the amputation of both legs below the knee at the age of 11 months after he was born without fibula bones.

But a report prepared by the psychiatrists who examined him found that "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," the chief prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, told the court on Monday.

The conclusion was critical since defendants deemed unable to distinguish between right and wrong can be committed indefinitely to state mental institutions, South African lawyers not associated with the case have said.

Mr. Nel and the lead defense lawyer, Barry Roux, accepted the findings.

The ruling permitted the trial, which is being broadcast around the world, to resume with the defense winding up its case before both sides present closing arguments to Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa. Since there are no jury trials in South Africa, the judge, advised by two assessors, will determine Mr. Pistorius's guilt or innocence, most likely after lengthy deliberations.

Mr. Pistorius was one of the world's most famous athletes, a symbol of overcoming adversity after he competed against able- bodied and disabled runners at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012. …

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