Christmas in custody for Guatemalan murder accused

2016-11-18 16:34
High court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

High court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Guatemalan murder accused Diego Novella will spend Christmas in a Cape Town prison.

Novella, who stands accused of murdering his American girlfriend, will remain in the hospital section of Pollsmoor prison, having previously undergone psychiatric evaluation.

His past attempts at being released on bail have failed as the courts considered him to be a flight risk.

Appearing calm, if a bit weary, he heard in the Western Cape High Court on Friday morning that the matter would be postponed for another pre-trial on February 3.

He held his hands in front of him, nodding his head when the court addressed him in English.

Novella is accused of murdering 39-year-old US marketing executive Gabriela Kabrins Alban at the Camps Bay Retreat boutique hotel in July 2015.

Lawyer's bad reputation

READ: Guatemalan murder accused back in court

Novella and Alban had been a couple at the time of her murder. Alban was strangled and sustained blunt force trauma to the face.

The court previously set down the trial for April 18 to June 9 2017.

However, this could change after Novella's lawyer William Booth indicated on Friday that he might be unavailable for a portion of the time.

"You have a bad reputation for not being in trials because you are too busy," Judge Elize Steyn said with a smile.

Booth again took issue with prosecutor Louise Friester-Sampson stating they had entered discussions with the defence over a possible plea and sentence agreement.

Wealthy family

"The State talks about a plea and sentence agreement. We are only having discussions," he emphasised.

"I have told the State they shouldn't indicate the content of the discussions. It could be prejudicial."

The court heard the defence was corresponding with the Guatemalan ambassador.

"He is an important figure in this matter in that he provides input and the approach in terms of the Guatemalan government. He is in London," said Booth.

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

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

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Read more on:    diego novella  |  cape town  |  crime

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