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Karla Homolka suffers self-esteem problems but is not a psychopath and is not at a greater risk of reoffending than any other inmate now serving time, a Quebec court heard Friday.

Montreal psychiatrist Dr. Louis Morissette - testifying for the defence - was called to the stand at the Joliette, Que., courtroom at the opening of the second day of the hearings and told court he did not consider Ms. Homolka more at risk to reoffend than most inmates currently in the correctional system.

He also portrayed Ms. Homolka as a woman who has problems with self-esteem, but he testified that she is not a psychopath and does not have an anti-social personality.

"The experts mostly agree, if she hadn't met [Paul]Bernardo, it would never have happened," he said, according to a Canadian Press report from inside the Quebec courtroom.

Dr. Morissette met Homolka twice last month and reviewed her entire psychological history.

"Is she dangerous in the short term? No," he said. "If you tell me is she is at risk to make a bad relationship choice and of doing something bad, that's her vulnerability. And she has to be followed."

Ms. Homolka's 12-year sentence for the horrific sex slayings of Ontario teenagers Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French and the death of her sister Tammy Homolka expires on July 5.

The Ontario government has gone to court asking that a seldom used section of the Criminal Code be invoked to keep Ms. Homolka on a short leash even after she leaves prison.

Ms. Homolka was sentenced in 1993 after pleading guilty to two counts of manslaughter as part of an agreement with the Crown to testify against former husband Paul Bernardo in the case.

The agreement - considered by many as a deal with the devil - was made before the discovery of tapes depicting the French and Mahaffy killings. Those tapes raised questions about Ms. Homolka's role in the slayings and her claim that abuse by Mr. Bernardo led to her participation.

But Tim Danson, the lawyer representing the French and Mahaffy families, balked at Dr. Morissette's assessment of Ms. Homolka, arguing that she put her relationship with Mr. Bernardo ahead of the lives of the two slain schoolgirls or that of her own sister.

"Now, if that doesn't strike you as being alarming," he told reporters outside the courthouse during a break in the hearing.

"There are a lot of people in this world who have low self-esteem. They don't go out and murder their sisters and murder other people."

He also said the assessment fails to take into the brutal nature of the crimes, which shocked the nation.

"It's not just that she goes out because of low self esteem and commits murders, but that she does it in a manner, with Paul Bernardo, that is sadistic and brutal," he said.

He added that the witness also conceded that he felt Ms. Homolka needs further treatment over the next three years.

"It seems to me that her own witness was conceding that that kind of court order would be helpful for Karla Homolka and to protect the public interest," he said, adding the witness also suggested that it would be appropriate for the court to order her not to associate with people with a criminal record.

The French and Mahaffy families want a series of strict controls put on Ms. Homolka. They want the court to order that she tell authorities where she's living and working and what her travel plans are. They also want her barred from areas where there may be children like parks and playgrounds."

On Thursday, Ms. Homolka's lawyer unsuccessfully tried to have the hearing dismissed, contending that it was an abuse of power and a violation of Ms. Homolka's rights.

During the first day of the hearing, the court heard from Constable Brian Noble of the Niagara Regional Police, who detailed the circumstances of the killings and cited correctional records and psychiatric reports to argue that Ms. Homolka continues to pose a threat to society.

Ms. Homolka's tearful response to Constable Noble's description of the killings sparked rage from Mr. Danson, lawyer for the French and Mahaffy families, who deemed it "a little bit late."

Court also heard that corrections officials, who considered Ms. Homolka a conformist who followed the rules while incarcerated, also found a naked photo of convicted killer Jean-Paul Gerbet, with whom Ms. Homolka has struck up a relationship.

Mr. Danson called that revelation especially telling.

"This is very, very significant," he said. "Even those psychiatrists who have given the opinion that Karla Homolka doesn't represent a threat public safety have conceded that that's conditional on the fact that she not associated with these kinds of people.

"The very fact that she's doing precisely that means all bets are off."

However, Dr. Morissette testified that Ms. Homolka - who was also involved with a female prisoner earlier in her incarceration - knows that she cannot have a relationship with Mr. Gerbet because he will be deported to his native France when he is released. Mr. Gerbet will be eligible for parole in 2008.

He also said he was aware the two had exchanged letters but could not say whether they were continuing to write.

"These are things that must be discussed," Dr. Morissette said. "She doesn't hide it. She discusses it."

With Canadian Press