Hotel murder-accused in danger - lawyer

2015-08-07 18:17

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Cape Town – A Guatemalan man accused of killing his girlfriend at an upmarket Camps Bay hotel will be kept in the hospital section of Pollsmoor prison for his safety until his next court appearance, the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court ruled on Friday.

Diego Novella, 41, emerged from the holding cells with long greasy hair and a somewhat worn expression on Friday afternoon.

Defence lawyer William Booth complained that his client had not been kept at the hospital section as previously ordered by the court. He had instead been put in a cell with 40 awaiting trial Pollsmoor prisoners.

"He had to share a bed from Tuesday until now. He was threatened that if he didn't pay money, he would be assaulted," Booth told Magistrate Grant Engel.

He said the ablution facilities were "atrocious" and his client had seen inmates using hard drugs in the cell.

"It is a serious offence. We don't dispute that. The point is that you are caught up in this nightmare where you could be killed. In light of this, I am going to request that he be detained in a single cell [at Goodwood Prison] for his safety."

Two passports

Engel said the logistics of organising this would be tricky and it was agreed that he be detained in the hospital section instead.

Novella would appear in court again for preliminary aspects next Friday and his bail application was set down provisionally for August 21.

The foreigner is accused of killing American marketing executive Gabriela Kabrins Alban, reportedly his girlfriend, at an upmarket Camps Bay hotel two weeks ago.

According to family, she is understood to have been strangled.

It emerged in court that he had Guatemalan and Italian passports.

"He has two legitimate passports and there is nothing wrong with owning two passports," Booth said.

No photos

The lawyer was dissatisfied with the information the State had provided on its case and he would approach the director of public prosecutions for further particulars.

Two media houses, e.Sat (eNCA) and Times Media Group, had intended applying to the court to take photos, videos and audio recordings but agreed to stand the matter down until later.

The court heard that there was a possibility of an identity parade.

Prosecutor Carmen Daniels said the investigation was at a very sensitive stage and the State would oppose media applications.

In the interim, Engel ordered that no one was allowed to take, nor publish, photographs of the accused at this stage.

Guatemalan Ambassador Acisclo Valladares Molina attended proceedings.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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