Court refers Pistorius for psychiatric observation

The high court in Pretoria has referred Oscar Pistorius for psychiatric observation.

Judge Thokozile Masipa made this ruling this morning, following yesterday’s application by prosecutor Gerrie Nel, in terms of section 78 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

In her ruling, Masipa said that defence witness forensic psychiatrist Dr Merryll Vorster had, in diagnosing the Paralympian with general anxiety disorder, allowed for the allegation that this disorder may have affected his actions in the early hours of February 14 last year, when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Masipa also said that while Vorster's report was fairly comprehensive, the psychiatrist had only conducted two interviews with Pistorius and would have benefited from more time to make her findings.

Masipa said that the referral was not made lightly and was guided by the interests of justice and Pistorius's right to a fair trial.

She said that the court was ill equipped to make a finding based solely on Vorster's evidence and that it would benefit from further input before making a final decision as to Pistorius's mental state and any possible effect it had on his actions.

Court was adjourned until Tuesday, when the details of Pistorius's referral will be finalised. The judge added that referral should not be seen as a means of punishing the accused twice and that an outpatient arrangement would be preferable.

Nel and defence advocate Barry Roux told the court they would take this into consideration before the order is handed down next Tuesday.

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