Cape Town - 130722 - Diamond merchant Dudley John Bernicchi (62), accused of murdering Ryan Ivaniservic appeared at the Cape Town Regional Court. With him is unknown male. PICTURE: THOMAS HOLDER. REPORTER: JADE OTTO

Cape Town - A Fish Hoek man accused of murdering a diamond dealer in his office in the city centre has testified that he was in shock after firing the fatal shots.

Dudley Bernicchi has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ryan Ivaniservic on November 2, 2011. He testified that he fired the shots in self-defence.

Bernicchi was in the witness box in the Cape Town Regional Court for the second day on Tuesday.

During cross-examination by prosecutor Vuyani Nati, he said he could not give a detailed account of the shooting in his office in the Picbel Parkade in Strand Street.

“I cannot remember pulling the trigger. The last action he did was pull back his chair and stand up.

“I have some recollection and some things are vague,” he said. “I must have put the firearm down but I don’t recall where I put it down. I was in shock, Ryan was my friend.”

His evidence was supported by the second defence witness, psychiatrist Dr Larissa Panieri-Peter.

Panieri-Peter testified that it was “rather normal” for someone’s memories of a traumatic event to be vague.

“In very emotionally charged events it (vague recollection) is a mark of truthfulness rather than a well-constructed story. I would be suspicious if someone remembers everything in great detail,” Panieri-Peter said.

Bernicchi, a master diamond cutter, said that shortly before the incident he and Ivaniservic had a heated argument about money and diamonds owed to him.

He testified that he had borrowed R600 000 which he gave Ivaniservic to buy diamonds, but Ivaniservic failed to deliver them and concocted a story that the diamonds had been stolen in transit from Joburg.

Bernicchi said he and Ivaniservic had had a close business relationship and had often conducted diamond deals together.

While Ivaniservic repaid R140 000 of the R600 000 to Bernicchi, the two were supposed to speak about how the balance would be returned. Instead, they argued.

Bernicchi said he knew Ivaniservic always carried a firearm and when, during the argument, Ivaniservic reached down, he fired at Ivaniservic before Ivaniservic could shoot him.

Panieri-Peter said she had evaluated Bernicchi shortly after the shooting and was concerned that he was depressed. She said he showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and appeared suicidal.

“He described an intense hopelessness for the future, an intense guilt and concern for his family.”

Closing arguments are expected on August 28.

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Cape Argus