Prosecutor Gerrie Nel Tuesday, citing an expert’s testimony that Oscar Pistorius has long suffered from severe anxiety issues, requested the runner be placed under psychiatric evaluation for 30 days of extensive testing.
Nel’s surprising request in South Africa‘s Pretoria court — which would undoubtedly add months to a trial that has already lasted longer than predicted — is a necessary step, the prosecutor argued, saying the court must “err on the side of caution” if Pistorius’ immediate mental health is tied to his fatal shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year.
Pistorius’ attorney Barry Roux, calling Nel’s interpretation of Monday’s testimony from forensic psychiatrist Dr. Meryl Vorster “unfortunate,” fought against the process.
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As we previously reported, Vorster said that the 27-year-old sprinter and his siblings were conditioned “to see their external environment as threatening” by their mother, which “added to the anxiety” he already carried around trying to appear as normal as possible at his parents’ urging after his legs were amputated when he was an infant. Vorster said that the surgical procedure on the 11-month-old would have been “perceived as a traumatic assault” he might have carried with him into his later years, as he was unable to speak or process the events.
Judge Thokozile Masipa said that she’d answer Nel in his bid come Wednesday, and ended Tuesday’s proceedings. As we previously reported, should Pistorius be convicted of premeditated murder, he could be sentenced up to life with a 25-year minimum sentence. If convicted of murder, he could face up to 15 years in custody.