The prosecution says there's a reasonable possibility that Pistorius suffers from a mental illness. REUTERS/Daniel Born/Pool
A South African prosecutor has asked for Oscar Pistorius to
be sent for a mental evaluation after a psychiatrist told the
Olympic and Paralympic track star's murder trial he had an
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued he wanted to prevent the
27-year-old sprinter, who faces life in prison if convicted
of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, from later
appealing on the basis of a disturbed mental condition.
Nel told the court there was a "reasonable possibility" that
Pistorius suffers from a mental illness, adding that without
a proper evaluation the case could later be appealed over
Pistorius' mental health.
If granted, the evaluation would likely further delay a trial
now in its 31st day. Defence lawyer Barry Roux has argued
against the motion, saying it was "premature" to have the
evaluation done now, as he planned to call other witnesses.
Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned the court to consider the
prosecutor's request and is expected to rule on it on
Wednesday (local time).
Defence witness and forensic psychiatrist Dr Merryll Vorster
testified that Pistorius, who was born without fibulas,
suffers from Generalised Anxiety Disorder after having his
legs amputated at 11 months.
The anxiety disorder, a long-term condition that causes
feelings of worry or fear in a wide range of situations, has
worsened as Pistorius has got older, Vorster said.
She has said his parents' divorce when he was a child would
have added to his general feelings of anxiety and insecurity.
After the divorce, Pistorius was brought up by his mother,
who died of cancer when he was aged 15. He has frequently
spoken of the difficulty her death caused him.
The state has sought to portray the track star as a
gun-obsessed hothead who killed model and law graduate
Steenkamp in a fit of rage.
The defence has argued that Pistorius had a heightened sense
of fear and vulnerability because he was on his stumps when
he thought he heard an intruder in his bathroom.
Pistorius has denied he killed Steenkamp in cold blood,
saying he shot four times at the toilet door of his luxury
Pretoria home to protect himself from what he though was an
Pistorius competed against able-bodied sprinters on
carbon-fibre prosthetics, becoming one of the most recognised
names in athletics. He won a clutch of Paralympic medals and
reached the semi-finals of the 400m at the London 2012