Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial Put on Hold

The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius will be suspended for at least a month so that the former Olympian can be assessed by a team of psychiatrists.

The mental health screening was ordered over Pistorius's objections this week after an expert witness for his defense suggested he could be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Under South Africa's Criminal Procedure Act, a court is required to order a psychiatric evaluation when the possibility of a mental illness or defect is raised.

The aim, the judge said, was not to punish him twice, but to ensure that justice was done. She raised the possibility that Pistorius would not have to stay overnight in a state mental hospital for the entire 30-day assessment, but could be an outpatient.

Pistorius's lawyers have been massaging the case theory that Pistorius's latent anxiety, coupled with the fear that a burglar was in the house, led him to believe that firing four shots through a locked bathroom door was a reasonable thing to do.

Pistorius's defense team objected strenuously to the court-ordered assessment, which could have implications on his defense strategy.

The court-ordered psychiatric panel could help Pistorius' case or reduce his sentence if he is convicted if it finds that the Olympic sprinter suffers from generalized anxiety disorder. But a finding by the panel that he was fully functional at the time of the crime, able to control himself and had full criminal liability, could complicate his defense.

[image via AP]