Media houses will not be permitted to televise or take photos of a Guatemalan murder-accused because the police investigation is still at a very sensitive stage, a court ruled on Monday.
E.Sat (eNCA) and Times Media had applied last week for greater media access in 42-year-old Diego Dougherty Novella’s case in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court.
“I am of the opinion that at this stage, the application must fail,” Magistrate Grant Engel ruled, adding that an identity parade was still outstanding.
“Granting of this application at this stage will be more prejudicial to the accused’s right to a fair trial.”
The public would still be informed of proceedings through a fair number of reporters present, he said.
“The court is prepared to revisit its stance at a later stage depending on the investigation as it is by no means [the intention] to ever bar the media from any proceedings.”
Other high-profile court appearances
Novella was arrested at the end of last month on charges of killing his girlfriend, American marketing executive Gabriela Kabrins Alban.
The 39-year-old’s body was found in a room at the luxury Camps Bay Retreat hotel on July 29.
Both the State and Novella’s lawyer William Booth opposed the media’s application on the grounds that it would prejudice the investigation and the accused.
Media houses had raised the argument that other high-profile court appearances were televised, such as that of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, British businessman Shrien Dewani and Port Elizabeth businessman Christopher Panayiotou.
But Engel said the circumstances around the investigation of these cases were different to the present matter.
It was acknowledged that courts operated in an age where information was readily disseminated and available through different forms of technology. News24