Patel remanded in US
Shannon Molloy, smh
March 12, 2008 - 9:23AM
Latest related coverage:
Patel held in US
Surgeon Jayant Patel, linked the deaths of 17 patients at a Queensland hospital, has been remanded in custody after appearing in a US court.
Dr Patel, 57, was arrested by the FBI in Portland, Oregon, overnight.
Australian authorities are seeking his extradition to face 16 charges relating to his work at Bundaberg Base Hospital.
The charges include three counts of manslaughter, three counts of grievous bodily harm and two counts of negligent acts or omissions causing harm.
He appeared in a Portland court today before Judge Dennis J. Hubel, who remanded him in custody.
A 60-page statement from the prosecutor says the charges against Patel include three counts of manslaughter, three counts of grievous bodily harm, two counts of negligent acts or omissions causing harm, five counts of fraud, plus a further two counts of fraud valued at more than $US5000 ($5378) and one count of attempted fraud.
Each manslaughter count carries maximum penalty of life. The other charges carry jail terms ranging from 2½ to 14 years.
Judge Hubel detained Patel pending a bail hearing in Portland on Thursday and ordered him to face an extradition hearing on April 10.
Formers patients 'relieved'
Former patients of surgeon Jayant Patel said they were "relieved and elated" at news of his arrest in the US - but said they had no doubt their fight for justice was far from over.
For many former patients, his arrest would act as a form of "closure" after almost three years of heartache and wait, Bundaberg Hospital Patients Support Group co-convenor Beryl Crosby said.
Ms Crosby was told of Dr Patel's arrest about 3am and immediately phoned several patients, who were "delighted" by the news.
"This, for us, is the pivotal moment ... we've never given up the idea this would happen, it was just a matter of when," Ms Crosby said.
"A lot of patients are going to be happy with this - many will see it as justice.
"For others, they will want to see the process continue as it will."
Patients were "under no illusion" it could be years until the matter came to an end, she said.
"We've talked about this since the very beginning because I didn't want the patients to be under any illusion that an arrest would mean it's over.
"He has a right to justice and certain appeals he can go through and we know that it might take years ... we are prepared for that."
As well as assisting "hundreds and hundreds" of people over the years, Ms Crosby said her position with the support group allowed her to take an active stance on other health issues.
"As well as the patients, I've liaised with policy advisors, health officials, different people within Queensland police ... it's been constant and it still is.
"We've been involved in many changes to the health system - there's so much that has happened over the last few years besides the Patel issue."
Time has allowed many to heal and "come out the other end unscathed", she said.
This morning was just another step towards complete closure, she said.
"We have support group meetings now and there's no anger or bitterness.
"I think we've all come out the other end okay and there are a lot of patients who have managed to get their lives back together," Ms Crosby said.
brisbanetimes.com.au with Ian Munro and AAP