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Experts question surprising timing of Oscar Pistorius anxiety disorder admission in trial

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 - 11:37am IST | Agency: ANI

Washington: Legal experts have reportedly criticised the timing of Oscar Pistorius' lawyers raising psychological issues arising from his amputated legs in his murder trial and suggested that it would be more appropriate testimony during a penalty phase if Pistorius was convicted.

Pistorius' defense team questioned forensic psychiatrist Merryll Vorster about the Paralympian and she claimed that he suffers from general anxiety disorder from a series of 'traumas' beginning with the amputations of his legs as an infant, the loss of his mother when he was 15 and estrangement from his father at age 21.

According to ABC News, defense lawyer Piet Pistorius, who is no relation to the defendant, said that Vorster's testimony would be better suited during evidence in mitigation of sentence, while lawyer Gideon Scheepers said that Vorster's testimony was not aimed at exonerating Pistorius but rather to explain his actions.

Scheepers also said that the testimony, if accepted, might lead to 'a finding of diminished capacity to act, which in turn may have an impact at sentence when substantial and compelling circumstances need to exist to enable the court to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence'.

Scheepers, however, questioned the timing of calling the psychiatrist, saying this type of evidence is normally tendered when a trial progresses to sentencing proceedings, while clinical psychologist Eugene Viljoen said that even though Pistorius has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, but that it does not mean he had it at the time of the shooting.


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