Pistorius’ health report unlikely to derail trial

2014-06-29 15:01

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It is highly unlikely that the report about Oscar ­Pistorius’ mental health will derail the final stretch of the athlete’s murder trial.

Pistorius is set to reappear in the North Gauteng High Court tomorrow after having undergone his prescribed 30 days of mental evaluation at Pretoria’s Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital.

A source close to the prosecution told City Press on Friday that it was unlikely that the reports detailing the evaluation contained any major findings that would render Pistorius completely unfit to stand trial.

If such a serious finding had in fact been made, the source said, the panel examining him would have ­requested more time or notified the legal teams.

Tomorrow, the completed mental evaluation report will become part of the court record.

If there is a significant question mark over Pistorius’ fitness to stand trial, Judge Thokozile Masipa will likely hear argument from the state and from Pistorius’ ­lawyers about what needs to happen next.

If the trial continues, Barry Roux, Pistorius’ ­advocate, will continue calling witnesses for the ­defence’s case.

Roux has previously indicated that he has only three more witnesses to call, but he has not revealed who they are.

Pistorius’ mental evaluation came after a witness for the defence, Dr Merryl Vorster, testified that Pistorius suffered from generalised anxiety disorder.

Ulrich Roux, a criminal defence lawyer who has ­followed the Pistorius case closely, agrees that the last witnesses who will be called are unlikely to make any startling new revelations in the case.

“At the end of the day, you have to take into account that there’s nobody who can support Pistorius’ ­version,” Roux said.

“I think his lawyers are going to call people who, to an extent, are going to testify to his character.”

Roux reiterated that the consensus among lawyers who have followed the case was that Pistorius was not a particularly good witness.

“It was always going to come down to his testimony and how he withstood cross-examination, and everyone agrees that he did not do that particularly well.”

Ulrich Roux said that if Pistorius is found guilty, Barry Roux and the rest of Pistorius’ legal team would have to deliver a “major argument” during the sentencing phase of the trial.

Once Pistorius’ team has concluded their case, there will be a postponement for both sides to prepare their ­closing arguments.

There will then likely be another lengthy postponement to allow Masipa to prepare her judgment.

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