The prosecution had asked for the evaluation after a psychiatrist
told the court on Monday that Pistorius, who is on trial for the
murder of Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 last year, suffered from an
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has argued he wanted to prevent the
27-year-old sprinter, who faces life in prison if convicted, from
later appealing on the basis of a disturbed mental condition.
Defense lawyer Barry Roux had argued against the motion, saying it
was premature to have the evaluation before he called other
But Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that a mental assessment would
ensure that Pistorius gets a fair trial, adding that she thought it
"strange" that the Defense had opposed the motion.
Masipa said the court would hand down the details of the assessment
on Tuesday. It would be preferable for Pistorius to undergo the
evaluation as an outpatient, she said.
Pistorius, who has frequently vomited into a bucket and broken down
sobbing during the trial, showed no emotion as he stood in the dock
listening to Masipa's ruling.
"As a family we are comforted by the thoroughness and detail of this
judgment," his uncle Arnold Pistorius told reporters outside the
The evaluation is expected to take around 30 days and will prolong
the trial which began on March 3.
The court will likely use the evaluation to determine whether
Pistorius lacked "criminal capacity" at the time of the shooting due
to his mental disorder, South African lawyer and legal expert John
[to top of second column]
In that case, Pistorius could be sent to a mental institution for
the rest of his life, Welch said. If Pistorius is judged to have a
"diminished criminal capacity" the trial would continue, although
the track star could receive a lesser sentence if convicted.
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 thought was an intruder.
Pistorius competed against able-bodied sprinters on carbon-fiber
prosthetics, becoming one of the most recognized names in athletics.
He won a clutch of Paralympic medals and reached the semi-finals of
the 400m at the London 2012 Olympics.
(Reporting by Siyabong Sishi, Nomatter Ndebele and Ndundu Sithole,
Writing by David Dolan, Editing by Ed Stoddard and Angus MacSwan)
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