South African court orders Pistorius to undergo mental evaluation
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 01:25
May 14 - South Africa's Oscar Pistorius was ordered by a judge to undergo a mental evaluation, a move one legal analyst believes could potentially lead to his acquittal for murder. Mana Rabiee reports.
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Oscar Pistorius will undergo a mental illness evaluation.
That was the order on Wednesday from a High Court judge in South Africa, where the Olympic track star is on trial for murder.
The move could determine whether Pistorius lacked "criminal capacity" when he shot dead his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year.
Pistorius's uncle told reporters the family welcomes the decision.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) OSCAR PISTORIUS' UNCLE, ARNOLD PISTORIUS, SAYING:
"As a family, we are comforted by the thoroughness and detail of this judgment, and Judge Masipa's commitment, using every avenue to ensure a fair trial, it's about a fair trial. It reaffirms our confidence in the South African justice system."
The prosecution asked for the mental evaluation after a psychiatrist told the court on Monday that Pistorius suffered from an anxiety disorder.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued he didn't want to see Pistorius appeal a conviction later on the basis of mental illness.
South African legal analyst John Welch.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) INDEPENDENT ADVOCATE, JOHN WELCH, SAYING:
"If the court finds that the accused lacked criminal capacity due to mental incapacity, then the accused will be acquitted and the accused will be referred to a mental institution, basically for the rest of his life."
But if Pistorius is judged to have a "diminished" criminal capacity, the trial would continue.
And in that case, he could receive a lesser sentence if convicted.
The evaluation is expected to take around 30 days and will prolong a trial that has already run more than 30 days.
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