Guatemalan accused of Camps Bay murder starts testifying

Image: STOCK IMAGE

A Guatemalan accused of murdering his American girlfriend during a holiday in Cape Town started testifying in his own defence in the High Court in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Diego Novella took to the witness stand to tell the court of his relationship with murdered Gabriella Albans.

In 2015‚ staff at the Camps Bay Hotel found Albans’ body with the Spanish word “sorote” (piece of s**t) written in faeces on her chest. Novella has pleaded not guilty to her murder‚ claiming he had ingested drugs‚

Novella told the court he met Albans while he was studying at the American Intercontinental University in Los Angeles. He said they dated for a month-and-a-half‚ describing their relationship as “warm and amicable” until they split up because of “differences”.

Novella‚ who was born into a wealthy family which made its money through cement manufacturing‚ said he returned to Guatemala City after a “run-in with the law”‚ and was now barred from the US.

Albans wrote to him in 2003 saying she was getting married‚ and contacted him again in 2009 to say she was unhappy with her relationship. They started talking on the phone almost every day and she divorced her husband in 2011.

In 2013 they attended a wedding in Mexico and “had physical contact”. She visited him in Guatemala for Christmas and eventually moved there to live with him between 2014 and 2015.

He testified that he visited South Africa in 2015 to follow the journey of Michael Tellinger. “I usually take a trip about three times a year outside of Guatemala. It was a tour to visit natural places with high energy‚” he said.

“Michael Tellinger is an author of what some may call conspiracy theories. He wrote a book called ‘Slave Species of god’‚ with a small letter‚ and a book called Ubuntu‚ which is about the system that runs the world.”

Judge Vincent Saldanha halted proceedings to tell Novella’s lawyer‚ William Booth‚ that his client might need to consider using a translator because he used the word “berserk” to describe Albans’ behaviour while she lived with him‚ at the same time referring to their relationship as amicable and warm.

Novella said her behaviour was as a result of her Lyme disease and the fact that she had tax problems with her company in the US.

The case continues.

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