EDITS WITH QUOTES FROM WITNESS TESTIMONY
By Hassan Isilow
PRETORIA (AA) – Former South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius is seriously depressed and further imprisonment would be harmful, a clinical Psychologist has told the Pretoria high court during his sentence hearing.
Professor Jonathan Scholtz who first examined the Paralympic athlete in 2014 said his mental condition had badly deteriorated.
“Since the offence, he has developed a serious psychiatric condition which has become worse over the past two years,” He said in his testimony.
He suggested the athlete should be given community service instead of being confined to a prison cell.
“In my opinion, his current condition warrants hospitalization’’ he told court.
The sentence hearing for Pistorius convicted of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, begun Monday at the Pretoria High Court.
Arguments between the defense and state are expected to last for three days before a ruling is issued.
Pistotrius 29 was initially sentenced to five years for Manslaughter in 2014, but had his conviction overturned last December when state lawyers appealed the matter after he was released on parole after serving only one year in prison.
The Supreme Court of Appeal found he was guilty of murdering steenkamp and ordered a fresh sentence.
The athlete killed his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day of 2013, when he fired a handgun four times through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home.
State prosecutor Gerrie Nel challenged Scholtz’s testimony saying he was a biased defense witness who presented a one sided report to court.
Nel said the psychologist had deliberately refused to include extracts from a report of a prison psychologist in his report presented in court.
A prison psychologist had claimed that Pistorius was aggressive and verbally violent during a session.
Under South African law, a murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence with a minimum of 15 years.
The double amputee, known as the Blade Runner for his athletic achievements, maintains that he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder when he opened fire in their Pretoria home.
Pistorius won a gold medal at the Athens Paralympic Games at the age of 17, turning him into a national hero. In 2012 he became the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympics.