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Pistorius appears for hearing, doctor says his condition is ‘severe’

other sports Updated: Jun 13, 2016 14:26 IST
Oscar Pistorius

Former paralympian Oscar Pistorius attends the sentencing for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp at the Pretoria high court, South Africa.(Reuters Photo)

Oscar Pistorius appeared in a South African court on Monday for a sentencing hearing after the double-amputee Olympian was convicted of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux argued for some leniency and called a psychologist who evaluated Pistorius to testify.

The clinical psychologist, professor Jonathan Scholtz, said he did not think Pistorius would be able to testify at the sentencing hearings because he has psychological problems.

“His condition is severe,” Scholtz said. The psychologist, who interviewed Pistorius in 2014 during the runner’s murder trial, and again in May, also said of the latest assessments: “His mood was anxious and depressed.”

Prosecutors had depicted Pistorius as an arrogant figure with a sense of entitlement and a love of guns.

Dressed in a dark suit, Pistorius sat calmly on a bench during the testimony. The gallery was packed with relatives, journalists and other onlookers. Police officers lined the wood-paneled walls of the courtroom.

Hearings are expected to last several days before Judge Thokozile Masipa announces the sentence later in the week. The minimum sentence for murder in South Africa is 15 years in jail, though a judge can reduce that sentence in some circumstances.

It will be the second time Pistorius has been sentenced for the killing, following Masipa’s earlier ruling in 2014 that he was guilty of the lesser charge of negligent homicide. An appeals court rejected that verdict and convicted Pistorius of murder.

The three-year legal saga that began with Steenkamp’s fatal shooting in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day 2013 now appears to be near its end.