Novella murder trial stalls again: 'I will walk across the sun to get justice for my daughter', says father

2018-06-12 17:03
Diego Novella in court on Monday after his panic attack, with advocate William Booth. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Diego Novella in court on Monday after his panic attack, with advocate William Booth. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Final argument over whether Gautamalan national Diego Novella murdered his American girlfriend Gabriela Kabrins Alban while on holiday in Camps Bay stalled again on Tuesday - this time so that he can go for two different psychiatric consultations.

His advocate William Booth asked the Western Cape High Court for a postponement so that Novella could see a private psychiatrist on Wednesday.

READ: Camps Bay murder accused Novella declared suicide risk

And then on Thursday he will consult a Pollsmoor Prison in-house psychiatrist to check that the type and strength of his medication is correct.

Novella is accused of murdering Kabrins Alban, a US sales executive at a Camps Bay hotel on July 29, 2015.

The trial has so far revealed that she was strangled, defecated on, and a note bearing the Spanish word for "piece of shit" (Cerote), left on her body. He claimed he was being attacked by a "demonic entity" and entered a plea of not guilty to murder.

ALSO READ: 'I defecated on the entity' – murder accused Diego Novella

Novella was diagnosed with a panic attack on Monday after an emergency visit to the district surgeon, but still declared capable of understanding proceedings.

His medication was increased and he was placed on "suicide watch", and was expected to already have seen a private psychiatrist by the resumption of the case on Tuesday morning.

Judge 'has been so respectful'

This was after telling Judge Vincent Saldanha on Monday that he had lied during his testimony, and that he was not feeling well.

For Kabrins Alban's family, the wait and postponements have been agonising.

Her father Howdy Kabrins said that, last week, Judge Saldanha had indicated a desire to have everything finished by June 28 - coincidentally the wedding anniversary of his late daughter's grandparents.

"I think that's the first time any of us felt that there was a line in the sand. That there was a light at the end of the tunnel and there wasn't a train coming towards us," he told News24.

"It's been....," said Kabrins, pausing to find the right words as his eyes started to well up, "....as I tell my friends in the States, it's inexplicable why this is taking so long."

However, Kabrins praised the judge's handling of the trial.

"Our judge is very appropriate in how he handles everything, in terms of fairness to everybody who walks in that court. From journalists, to court orderlies, to spectators, to witnesses; he has been so respectful."

"Gaby's' family has been attending the trial every day, from when the case was in the lower courts to the current almost-end-of trial, but feel they can only truly start healing from her brutal death once there is judgment and sentencing.

"It's been two years and nine months," said stepmom Linda, leaning into Howdy. 

'I will walk across the sun to get justice for my daughter'

Kabrins said they wanted to be present to create a legacy for their daughter, to show that people cannot get away with murder, rape and femicide.

"I have said it before - I will walk across the sun to get justice for my daughter."

He had high praise for the kindnesses showered on them during their grim visit to South Africa.

"People have been so kind. People have invited us into their homes. They have invited us to family celebrations."

However, he said, because they are foreign nationals who are not on holiday, or studying, or on business, they had to renew their visas every 90 days.

This was at great expense, through immigration lawyers.

He called on the South African government to consider the effect this was having on the families of murder victims coming to trials in South Africa, and to find a way of supporting them regarding their visa requirements.

"It's inexplicable," he said.

The trial will resume on Monday.

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Read more on:    diego novella  |  cape town  |  crime  |  courts

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