Jayant Patel released on bail, requests privacy

July 22nd, 2008 - 5:04 pm ICT by IANS  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, July 22 (IANS) India-born US citizen Jayant Patel appealed for privacy Tuesday evening as he was released on bail after providing the required cash surety of A$20,000. Patel’s lawyer Arun Raniga told the huge media contingent waiting outside the Brisbane Watchouse: “He will be staying at an undisclosed residential location and will now start preparing his defence, once he has recovered his sleep and gets a bit of rest. We ask that you respect his privacy and try and leave him in peace. He won’t be making any public statements or answering any questions until his trial is over.”

The 58-year-old doctor, who has been in custody since March 11, when he was put behind bars at the high security prison in Portland, Oregon (US), had spent Monday night in custody at the Brisbane Watchhouse after arriving from Los Angeles in the morning.

Magistrate Brian Hine had Monday afternoon granted bail to Patel and ordered he provide a cash surety of A$20,000, lives at a place approved by the Director of Public Prosecutions, reports to the police three days a week and does not leave Queensland or approach an international airport. He has surrendered his passport and is not allowed to communicate with witnesses.

Patel has been charged with 14 offences, including three counts of manslaughter, two counts of grievous bodily harm, and fraud, relating to his employment as director of surgery at regional Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland between 2003 and 2005.

Meanwhile, Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine has told ABC Radio that taxpayers would be footing the bill for Patel’s rent and living expenses while he awaits trial, which could be 12 months away.

Magistrate Hine has ordered Patel to appear in court for a committal hearing in Brisbane Sept 1.

Friends and family of Patel have expressed concern about the doctor’s safety.

“I hope the Australian government protects him completely and the other people who come over. They need to ensure they don’t get bullied by somebody or kicked out, or actually hurt by somebody who is angry. We have raised the level of anger to an unproportional dignity. This is a frenzy that I have not seen since O.J. Simpson,” Texas-based surgeon Vijay Mehta was quoted as saying by the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

Patel had June 26 voluntarily agreed to his extradition to stand trial in Australia. His case is probably the worst medical-negligence scandal in this country. He allegedly falsified his application to practice medicine in Australia and then falsified death certificates and refused patients’ transfers to other hospitals to cover up “botched treatment and surgery”.

Patel, banned from surgery in two US states, was employed at the regional Bundaberg Base hospital for A$200,000 ($195,000) per annum in 2003. In late 2003, he was promoted to director of surgery at the hospital.

On April 1, 2005, Patel’s bosses signed on a $3,547 business-class, one-way air fare for him to travel to the US despite him being neck-deep in accusations of fatal incompetence.

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