Oscar Pistorius set for mental health evaluation

OSCAR Pistorius has arrived at a South African government psychiatric hospital to begin the period of mental evaluation ordered by the judge at his murder trial.

South African Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius, pictured in court last week. Picture: Getty

Pistorius’ car drove through the security gates of Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital in Pretoria behind a police van.

Judge Thokozile Masipa last week ordered that Pistorius be observed by a panel of four mental health experts for up to 30 days at Weskoppies after a psychiatrist testified at his trial that he had an anxiety disorder and it could have contributed to his fatal shooting of his girlfriend last year.

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Pistorius will be evaluated as an outpatient and return home each day. He was ordered by Masipa to present himself by 9am each weekday for tests from Monday for up to a month. His murder trial has been postponed until 30 June. He is free on bail.

The Paralympian is charged with premeditated murder for shooting to death Reeva Steenkamp at his home on 14 February 2013 and has been on trial in Pretoria since 3 March this year.

Prosecutors say Pistorius, 27, killed Ms Steenkamp, 29, intentionally after a late-night fight but his defence argues he mistook his girlfriend for a dangerous intruder hiding in a toilet cubicle in his bathroom when he shot her multiple times through the door.

His psychiatric evaluation was prompted by testimony from Dr. Merryll Vorster, a psychiatrist called by his defence, who said she diagnosed the world-famous runner with generalised anxiety disorder after interviewing him on two occasions at the beginning of May.

Dr Vorster said Pistorius had a long-held fear of crime and felt vulnerable as an amputee, and his disorder may have been a factor when he fired four times with a 9mm pistol.

The chief prosecutor asked Judge Masipa to order the independent tests because he said Pistorius’ defence might argue he wasn’t criminally responsible for the killing because of mental illness.