, PRETORIA, Jun 30 – After a six-week break, the murder trial that has gripped South Africa and the world resumes on Monday when Paralympian Oscar Pistorius returns to the dock after a month of psychiatric tests.
The star sprinter has tried to argue that a “generalised anxiety disorder” contributed to him shooting dead his 29-year-old model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.
He admits shooting Steenkamp with a 9mm pistol through a locked toilet door, but says it was a mistake as he thought she was an intruder coming to attack him in the dead of night.
The prosecution argues it was cold-blooded murder following a row between the young couple and has gathered evidence of a tempestuous relationship.
Judge Thokozile Masipa last month ordered Pistorius to spend 30 days under psychiatric observation to determine if he should be held criminally responsible for the killing.
The ruling followed testimony from an expert witness for the defence who claimed Pistorius suffers from an anxiety disorder that could explain why he reacted so violently to a perceived break-in.
His defence team has claimed the deep-seated anxiety dates back to the amputation of his lower legs as a child and the influence of a mother who abused alcohol and slept with a gun under her pillow out of fear of South Africa’s high crime rates.
The outcome of Pistorius’s assessment may dramatically alter the direction of the trial, with leaked media reports suggesting that the three specialists who monitored him had come to a “unanimous” conclusion about his state of mind.