Beheader has very strong psychopathic traits - psychiatrist

2016-04-28 20:06
Aljar Swartz in court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Aljar Swartz in court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town – Aljar Swartz has very strong psychopathic traits and has shown he is capable of coldly calculating a terrible killing, a psychiatrist told the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.

The court called Professor Sean Kaliski to testify during sentencing procedures, as he was part of the psychiatric panel who observed Swartz at Valkenberg hospital in Cape Town last year.

Kaliski looked at the circumstances of 15-year-old Lee Adams’s beheading, interviews with Swartz and various documents.

He proposed three types of people who could be capable of such violence – a religious fanatic (such as in the case of ISIS), a psychotic with delusions, or a psychopath.

"I just think he has very strong psychopathic traits. He is remorseless and has a superficial emotional life. He doesn’t seem to be close to anybody. No one really matters to him."

He said the 19-year-old was intelligent. He also had a decent and religious family.

"One of the chief characteristics is that they are charming. That is why they are con artists."

He told prosecutor Carine Theunnisen that some psychopaths were highly functional and even CEOs of large companies.

Swartz was recently found guilty of the premeditated murder of Adams, as well as three counts of incitement to commit murder.

Kaliski testified that Swartz had strongly denied any involvement in the killing while under their care.

"He says here he has never instructed to find someone to kill or behead or to hurt someone or an animal because of his Satanism. In other words, his Satanism was something completely separate."

Steyn said the State and defence would be expected to address the court on whether or not to declare Swartz a dangerous criminal.

This would mean the court having to declare a time after sentencing when Swartz would reappear before it for a re-evaluation of his sentence.

Kaliski said predictions and risk assessments of convicted people were useless.

"You’re asking an expert to do the impossible… beyond six months, you have no idea what a person is going to do."

Defence lawyer Sheriff Mohamed said there was testimony that a senior official at Pollsmoor Prison had commented on Swartz being one of the most well behaved inmates.

He highlighted the role of rehabilitation.

In response, Kaliski referred to William van der Merwe, dubbed "the screwdriver rapist", who was a model prisoner while detained at a prison for psychopaths.

Yet he targeted two young women while out on parole. "When he left, he was just as bad as when he went in."

Kaliski said his role was not to tell the court what sentence to impose.

However, he certainly would not be advocating for a shorter prison term.

Sentencing procedures would resume on Friday.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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