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Pistorius a 'suicide risk'

South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius arrives in court for his trial in Pretoria July 2, 2014. (EUTERS/Werner Beukes)

PRETORIA: Paralympian star Oscar Pistorius, on trial over the killing of his girlfriend, is suffering from post-traumatic stress and is a suicide risk, a South African court heard Wednesday.

The diagnosis was contained in a psychological report read to the court by lawyer Barry Roux, who is defending Pistorius on charges that he deliberately shot and killed model Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

"Mr Pistorius has been severely traumatized by the events that took place," Roux quoted the report as saying.

"He currently suffers from a post-traumatic stress disorder and a major depressive disorder. He is also mourning the loss of Ms Steenkamp."

Pistorious, 27, had received treatment for his condition and this should continue, the report said.

"Should he not receive proper clinical care, his condition is likely to worsen and increase the risks for suicide."

The report was the result of 30 days of court-ordered psychiatric observation of the double-amputee athlete.

Both sides cherry-picked from the report to back up their cases.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel read excerpts which said that Pistorius had not suffered any mental illness at the time he shot Steenkamp and could be held "criminally responsible" for his actions.

Roux countered with a section dealing with the prosecution's contention that Pistorious had a volatile temper.

"No evidence could be found to indicate that Mr Pistorius has a history of abnormal aggression or explosive violence," Roux read.

"He does not display the personality characteristics of narcissism and of psychopathy that are mostly associated with men in abusive relationships and have been linked to rage-type murders in intimate relationships."

Earlier, in a pummeling cross-examination, Nel questioned Pistorius's manager about the star sprinter's angry outbursts and turbulent love life, zeroing in on apparent inconsistencies in key parts of his account.

Nel dismissed Pete Van Zyl's claim that he did not know of Pistorius's aggressive behavior at past athletic events and personal details about his previous girlfriends.

But van Zyl denied trying to protect Pistorious.

"I do not have any future contracts or anything of that sort. Contracts have been terminated," he said.

Pistorious had in fact had to repay some sponsorship money, he said.

"I don't stand to gain anything by being biased toward Mr Pistorius in my testimony," he said.

Pistorius, known as the "Blade Runner," has been charged with murdering Steenkamp by shooting her four times through a locked toilet door after a row.

The defense claims Pistorius shot the 29-year-old model and law graduate after mistaking her for an intruder.

The Olympian has testified he was in a loving relationship with his girlfriend, who he had been dating for about three months.

He faces 25 years in South Africa's brutal jails and an abrupt end to his glittering sporting career if convicted.

His plunge from inspirational hero to murder suspect has drawn a global spotlight on his trial, with a 24-hour news channel dedicated to court proceedings in South Africa.

The defense has said that it has no more witnesses to call after Wayne Derman, chief medical officer of the South African Paralympics Team at the London Olympic Games in 2012, who is expected to testify to Pistorius's physical vulnerability.

 

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Summary

Paralympian star Oscar Pistorius, on trial over the killing of his girlfriend, is suffering from post-traumatic stress and is a suicide risk, a South African court heard Wednesday.

The diagnosis was contained in a psychological report read to the court by lawyer Barry Roux, who is defending Pistorius on charges that he deliberately shot and killed model Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel read excerpts which said that Pistorius had not suffered any mental illness at the time he shot Steenkamp and could be held "criminally responsible" for his actions.

Nel dismissed Pete Van Zyl's claim that he did not know of Pistorius's aggressive behavior at past athletic events and personal details about his previous girlfriends.


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