Trial date set down for Guatemalan murder accused

2016-10-28 17:01
High court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

High court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - A 2017 trial date for Guatemalan murder accused Diego Novella was reserved when he appeared in the Western Cape High Court on Friday for a pre-trial conference.

Judge Andre le Grange set down the period of April 18 to June 9 next year.

Prosecutor Louise Friester-Sampson told the court the State had entered discussions with the defence.

“The defence sent a letter yesterday related to a possible plea and sentence agreement. The State is considering the merits of the offer.”

She said they did not agree on all aspects of discussions and requested another pre-trial hearing.

Consultation

Defence lawyer William Booth confirmed there had been meetings on the evidence. “We haven’t reached an agreement. There are discussions,” he told the judge.

Novella stood with slouched shoulders in the dock and seemed tired as he listened.

Booth said he had consulted a number of witnesses.

“We are all keen to try and come to some kind of potential compromise. The State must understand that this is a two-way situation,” he said.

“We are always here to try and shorten the process.”

Friester-Sampson replied that the “road seems to be going one way”.

Novella is accused of murdering 39-year-old US marketing executive Gabriela Kabrins Alban at the upmarket Camps Bay Retreat in July 2015. Novella and Alban had been a couple at the time of her murder.

Alban was strangled and sustained blunt force trauma to the face.

News24 previously reported that her father, Howdy Kabrins, said Novella "lured" her to Cape Town with the promise of alternative treatment for Lyme disease.

Novella remains in custody after being denied bail as the courts considered him to be a flight risk.

He is a member of a wealthy Guatemalan family and holds shares in a large cement-producing firm.

After the pre-trial hearing on Friday, Booth appeared unhappy that the State had disclosed the nature of their discussions.

He sternly warned journalists not to report that there was a plea and sentence agreement on the table. He stressed there were simply discussions on a number of different aspects.

These included shortening the duration of the trial.

The matter would return to the high court for a pre-trial hearing on November 18.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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