May 14, 2014 (ISN) – Oscar Pistorius will have to undergo psychiatric tests, the judge in his murder trial has ruled.
Prosecutors called for the Paralympic athlete to have a mental health assessment after psychiatrist Merryll Vorster said the 27-year-old has generalised anxiety disorder.
The decision by judge Thokozile Masipa is likely to extend the trial for several weeks.
Pistorius is likely to be evaluated as an outpatient, meaning he will not be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for an evaluation that could take up to 30 days.
He is accused of the premeditated murder of his 29-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 last year.
He admits killing her, but says he thought there was an intruder in his Pretoria home when he shot through a locked toilet door, killing the model and law graduate.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said yesterday a “psychiatric evaluation was essential”, with Pistorius’ defence team insisting such a request was “manifestly absurd”.
In her evidence to the court, psychiatrist Vorster said Pistorius is a “distrusting and guarded” person who is “hyper-vigilant” about security.
She said the athlete has had an anxiety disorder since childhood and his actions on Valentine’s Day last year “should be seen in context of his anxiety”.
Judge Masipa said in her ruling that the South African criminal code stipulates an accused person should be evaluated if it is alleged they are mentally ill.
She said it would be “preferable” for him to undergo the evaluation as an outpatient.
The court has adjourned until Tuesday, when the order will be officially made and more specifics of how the assessment will play out are given.