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Africa

Pistorius trial resumes after experts rule out mental illness

© Afp

Video by Nicholas RUSHWORTH

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-30

The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius resumed Monday after a month-long recess during which mental health experts determined that he does not suffer from a disorder that could have made him not criminally liable for fatally shooting his girlfriend.

A psychiatric panel and a psychologist found that Pistorius is not mentally ill and does not have an anxiety disorder that could have rendered him not criminally responsible for the fatal shooting of Reeva Steenkamp, the state prosecutor announced Monday.

"Mr Pistorus did not suffer from a mental illness or defect that would have rendered him criminally not responsible for the offence charged," said state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, reading from the psychologist report, one of two reports detailing the mental state of the Paralympian athlete.

Judge Thokozile Masipa ordered a "proper inquiry" into Pistorius' mental state in May.

"The accused may not have raised the issue that he was not criminally responsible at the time of the incident in so many words, but evidence led on his behalf clearly raises the issue and cannot be ignored," she said at the time.

Pistorius wore a dark suit upon his return to the dock of the Pretoria courtroom, with members of his family sitting in the gallery. Steenkamp’s mother, June, was also there.

Pistorius has admitted to shooting his girlfriend in the early hours of Valentine's Day of 2013 but said that he did so through a closed bathroom door after mistaking her for an intruder in the middle of the night.

Throughout the two prior months of his trial, lawyers for Pistorius have sought to portray him as obsessed with safety after a difficult childhood and in the face of the high crime levels seen in many parts of South Africa.

Those factors, they say, help explain why he believed Steenkamp to be a burglar when he heard noises in the bathroom that night.

Prosecutors maintain that Pistorius, 27, is lying and that his story about thinking there was an intruder in the house was fabricated to cover up killing the 29-year-old model intentionally in the midst of a heated argument.

During his often aggressive questioning Nel has tried to portray Pistorius as a gun fanatic with a temper, and insisted that he "take responsibility" for Steenkamp's death.

The first amputee ever to run at the Olympics in 2012, Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of a premeditated murder charge.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

 

Date created : 2014-06-30

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