Oscar Pistorius could spend 30 days in mental institution

2014-05-12 17:02

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Oscar Pistorius, who suffers from a disorder that makes him a “danger to society”, faces 30 days in a state mental facility.

This comes after state Prosecutor Gerrie Nel today confirmed he would bring an application to have Pistorius referred for mental observation, after one of Pistorius’ own witnesses testified that he had General Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Merryll Vorster, a forensic psychiatrist, today testified in Pistorius’ defence, saying the athlete’s anxiety disorder, coupled with his inability to flee, would make it more likely for Pistorius to fight than to flee in a dangerous situation.

She said a result of this disorder would be that as “one is increasingly anxious, one feels more and more insecure about one’s personal safety, even though actually one is safe”.

But under cross-examination, things got complicated for Pistorius.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel said: “If you say there’s a possibility that he suffered from a diminished responsibility, then he has to be referred for mental observation.”

Nel was referring to a section of the Criminal Procedure Act, which requires courts to refer an accused for mental observation if it believes the person can’t be held criminally responsible for their actions.

Vorster replied to Nel’s question, saying that Pistorius’ reaction to thinking there was an intruder in his house would not be that “of a normal able-bodied person without GAD”.

Nel replied: “But taking all that into account [the GAD and his physical vulnerability] it could have diminished his responsibility at the time ... that should lead to referral [for mental evaluation].”

“It is a possibility that the court could consider,” said Vorster.

Roux has indicated that the defence will oppose the application, saying Vorster did not testify that Pistorius couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong or could not act in accordance with that determination.

Nel will conclude his cross-examination tomorrow.

Roux will then re-examine the witness, following which Nel will have the opportunity to bring an application to refer Pistorius for evaluation.

The athlete looked upset by the prospect, shaking his head in frustration at this latest turn of events.

Earlier, Vorster conceded that a person with GAD would be a danger to society if they owned firearms.

She also said that she had thought that Pistorius’ remorse over killing Steenkamp was genuine, but admitted that it was possible for people who killed their partners in “fits of rage” to feel remorse.

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