Oscar Pistorius depressed and unable to testify in mitigation of sentence – Psychologist

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[SABC South Africa]

Murder convict Oscar Pistorius will not be able to handle testifying in mitigation of sentence in the High Court in Pretoria. This is according to psychologist Jonathan Scholtz, who says the former athlete is suffering from severe depression and anxiety.

Scholtz is the defence’s first witness in the sentence hearing.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned Pistorius’s culpable homicide conviction and found him guilty of murder. In 2013, he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his Pretoria home.

Psychologist Jonathan Scholtz told the court that he interviewed Oscar Pistorius for eight hours where he put him through psychometric and risk assessments to determine his psychological state of mind.

The professor testified that from his assessment, Pistorius suffers from severe depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and expresses elements of guilt.

Psychologist Jonathan Scholtz is testifying at Oscar Pistorius’s hearing at the Pretoria High Court.(SABC)

Scholtz says from the interviews, Pistorius informed him that he is terrified of gunshot sounds even if they are coming from a movie he is watching.

According to the expert, this is common with PTSD. In addition, Scholtz says he does not believe Pistorius would be strong enough to testify on the stand.

“The mental state examination of Pistorius, his thought content displayed preoccupation regarding the impending sentencing procedures, guilt and his future. He appeared to have limited energy and his concentration wavered. He had no perceptual disturbance. He displayed signs and reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder and depressive disorder. His short to medium term memory was compromised, his judgement was intact and he had good insight. His manner was respectful and cooperative. Currently in my opinion he is not able to testify, his condition is severe,” says Scholtz.

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