By Helen Nyambura-Mwaura
Oscar Pistorius, the South African track star on trial for murder for shooting his girlfriend, was not suffering from a mental condition that would have impaired his ability to distinguish between right and wrong at the time she was killed, a psychiatric report said on Monday.
Pistorius, an Olympic and Paralympic sprinter, has admitted to shooting dead his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, but maintains he mistook her for an intruder hiding in his toilet in an upmarket Pretoria suburb.
The trial, which began in March, took a month-long break to allow the 27-year-old to undergo a mental evaluation at Pretoria’s Weskoppies hospital after a forensic psychologist brought by the defence testified that Pistorius had an anxiety disorder.
Judge Thokozile Masipa said it was important to find out whether or not the condition affected his criminal responsibility.
“At the time of the alleged offences, the accused did not suffer from a mental disorder or mental defect that affected his ability to distinguish between the rightful or wrongful nature of his deeds,” Prosecutor Gerrie Nel read from a report submitted to the court.
Both Nel and defence lawyer Barry Roux accepted the findings of a panel of psychiatrists and psychologists after 30 days of evaluation.
During the trial, prosecutors have tried to paint a picture of a self-obsessed Pistorius who knowingly killed his law graduate girlfriend as she cowered behind a locked bathroom door.
Pistorius could face a life sentence if found guilty of the shooting on Valentine’s Day last year.
Pistorius competed against able-bodied sprinters on carbon-fibre prosthetics, becoming one of the most recognised names in athletics. Besides a clutch of Paralympic medals, he reached the semi-finals of the 400m at the London 2012 Olympics.