Pistorius evaluator has heart attack

PRETORIA - A psychiatrist who evaluated Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius in the trial for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, has suffered a heart attack.

But this is not expected to delay the trial, which resumes on Monday, the prosecution say.

Mr Pistorius is due to complete a 30-day psychiatric assessment on Friday.

The judge in his trial ordered the tests after a defence witness said the double amputee was suffering from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (Gad).

Mr Pistorius denies intentionally killing his girlfriend and says he accidentally shot her through the toilet door on Valentine's Day last year in a state of panic, mistaking the 29-year-old model and law graduate for an intruder.

Mr Pistorius checked in as a day patient to Pretoria's Weskoppies psychiatric hospital on 26 May, where he has been assessed by a team of health experts for seven hours a day.

Three psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist were tasked to determine whether his state of mind and disability had an effect on him when he shot Ms Steenkamp.

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp had been dating for about three months before the fatal shooting

South Africa's eNCA broadcaster earlier reported that the psychiatrist's heart attack may have caused a delay in the handing over of the Paralympian's psychiatric evaluation report.

The psychiatrist in question, Dr Leon Fine, had not yet signed the report, according to eNCA's website.

The prosecution had argued the tests were essential after forensic psychiatrist Merryll Vorster, who diagnosed the athlete with Gad, told the court he was "a danger to society".

The defence vigorously opposed the move.

The court in Pretoria is expected to hear the outcome of the medical tests when the trial resumes on Monday.

What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder?

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder is a medically-recognised, long-term condition
  • People with Gad feel anxious on most days and worry about a wide range of issues
  • It is thought to affect around one in 25 people at some point in their lives and is more common in women than in men
  • Symptoms vary - making it tricky to diagnose
  • People with Gad may have difficulty concentrating, feel tired and irritable, feel sick, dizzy or sweaty and experience aches and pains
  • Gad tends to run in families, can follow stressful events, and may be linked to chemical imbalances in the brain
  • The main treatments include using talking therapies, relaxation techniques and medication

There are no juries at trials in South Africa, so the athlete's fate will ultimately be decided by the judge, assisted by two assessors.

If found guilty of murder, Mr Pistorius could face life imprisonment. If he is acquitted of that charge, the court will consider an alternative charge of culpable homicide, for which he could receive about 15 years in prison.

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