Gautemalan killer jailed for 20 years
Publish date: 10 September 2018
Issue Number: 790
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Guatemalan Diego Novella has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for killing his US girlfriend, Gabriela Kabrins Alban, at a Camps Bay hotel in July 2015, says News24. Western Cape High Court Judge Vincent Saldanha handed down the sentence last week. 'The deliberate desecration of the body of the deceased by the accused and his wanton humiliation of her abounds as a serious aggravating factor,' he said. Novella had convinced the successful marketing executive to travel to SA for treatment after she lost her energy to Lyme Disease. The scene of her murder was gruesome, and the horrific details emerged in court previously. Novella had pleaded not guilty to her murder, saying a concoction of natural substances he had taken while on a 'soul journey' and detoxification process in SA had caused him to behave in an abnormal manner. But Saldanha found him guilty of murder in June, saying his version was 'wholly contrived'. 'In my view, he knew exactly what he was doing at the time and it was a clear indication on his part of the intent to murder the deceased,' he said at the time.
Gabriela’s mother, Doris Weitz said she had hoped for a harsher sentence. ‘Like I said in my testimony, I've been sentenced to life without parole and I wished that he had gotten that same sentence. He tortured my child, he took her away from me,’ Weitz, who has travelled to SA from America 11 times to attend the trial, said, according to a report on the IoL site. However, she praised SA’s judicial system and said she thought the judge was ‘magnificent’. Her husband, retired Judge Alexander Williams, said they would go home and have to learn to ‘live without Gaby’. Father Howdy Kabrins and stepmother Linda, also attended the trial – a total of more than 130 days. Kabrins said he, too, was impressed by SA's judicial system. ‘I'm glad to see justice prevailed ... contrary to a lot of world opinion that the system here was corrupt, Judge Saldanha was the most dignified man, teacher, judge we have ever experienced,’ he said.