“Dr.Death” Agrees to Return to Australia to Fight the Case Against Him

by Gopalan on  June 26, 2008 at 5:52 PM Medico Legal News   - G J E 4
 “Dr.Death” Agrees to Return to Australia to Fight the Case Against Him
The controversial Indian origin doctor, Jayant Patel, has agreed to be extradited to Australia to fight the charges against him. The move has been hailed by the federal government and the affected people.

The man stands charged with 16 offences, including manslaughter, grievous bodily harm and negligence, committed during his stint at Queensland hospital between 2003 and 2005.

A government inquiry to the deaths of 17 patients, but he managed to flee to US where he was reported living in style.

He was finally arrested in March last by FBI agents at his home in Oregon.

Since his arrest, Dr Patel has been detained in a high-security prison in Portland, Oregon, and was expected to wage a lengthy court battle to avoid extradition.

But in a surprise move, his legal team has filed a motion to a US court expressing his "willingness, desire, and intent" to confront the allegations.

According to the motion, he accepted that he must return to Australia to contest the allegations.

The Australian federal Government has welcomed the decision.

Federal Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus says the matter is in the hands of the American district court.

"It's not possible for me right now to speculate about the date of his return or indeed to comment particularly on the matter," he said.

"The courts have got to do their work and we have to do all we can to ensure that there is a fair trial if Dr Patel is indeed finally extradited."

Patel's decision has been met with tears and laughter from his former patients.

The president of the Bundaberg Hospital Patients Support Group, Beryl Crosby, says there is a great sense of relief among members.

"I've just spoken to one and she was crying on the phone with relief, we were laughing and crying together," she said.

"She's just so relieved it's come to this point because she was very vocal in the fact that he would come back, [that] she would see justice.

"[If] anyone that said it wasn't going to happen she would get very upset."

Ms Crosby says no-one in the support group thought the extradition would fail.

"We held on to the fact that it could be a very long time before it happened, so we were prepared for a long, drawn-out wait," she said.

"For it to happen now so quickly that the extradition won't be fought is the overwhelming part for us, that we may not have to wait for years for this to happen."

Ms Crosby says she has not been given any indication from authorities as to how long the extradition process will take.

But Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine says the process to return Dr Patel to Australia should now be relatively simple.

Shine says he expects Dr Patel will be back in the "near future".

"Bearing in mind it will be a voluntary process and we will be avoiding those protracted appeals - that we saw for example recently in the Mokbel case - I would anticipate the process would be simple," he said.

"We should therefore see him back in Australia to start the Queensland process in the near future."

Intensive care nurse Toni Hoffman worked with the Indian-trained doctor and blew the whistle on him more than three years ago.

Today her concern is that the extradition process runs smoothly.

"We have to be really well-prepared and the prosecution has to be really well-prepared," she said.

Source: Medindia

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