JOHANNESBURG, November 21 – The trial of Guatemalan Diego Novella is expected to resume in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.
Novella is accused of allegedly murdering his American marketing executive girlfriend Gabriela Kabrins Alban at a boutique Camps Bay hotel in 2015.
He has pleaded not guilty and in his plea statement and claimed he had been in an abnormal mental state after having taken hallucinogenic substances.
On November 8, the court turned down a request by the defence for Novella to be placed under psychiatric observation for 72 hours. Earlier in the day, Judge Vincent Saldanha ordered that Novella be assessed by a district surgeon at Victoria Hospital to determine whether he was fit to proceed with the trial or needed to be admitted.
The doctor who examined him deemed a three-day observation period was unnecessary and premature.
Proceedings were stalled on November 7, when Novella had a meltdown in court that lasted for over two hours and ended with the victim’s father and stepmother, Howdy and Linda Kabrins, being ushered out of the courtroom for their own safety so that the accused could be taken down to court cells by at least four court security officials.
Novella’s outburst included shouting at Saldanha, demanding to speak to the Guatemalan consul, and refusing to hand back his defence lawyer’s cellphone. He also insisted that his lawyer place on record that he had used cannabis.
Despite defence lawyer William Booth’s objections, Saldanha insisted the trial resume as Novella was able to understand proceedings.