South African professor, 78, detained in the United Arab Emirates

By Sandy Rashty, September 27, 2012
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The South African professor being held in the United Arab Emirates for a decade-old alleged manslaughter conviction, had his trial postponed for the fifth time last Wednesday.

Professor Cyril Karabus, 78, was convicted in absentia a decade ago for the manslaughter of a patient, but the prosecution still “cannot find” the hospital files that contain the alleged evidence.

The judge, who presided over the case at 10am on Wednesday morning, refused to grant the “extremely frail man” bail and postponed the trial until next Thursday, October 11.

Michael Bagraim, the family lawyer, said: “Everything was in our favour - we could almost taste it. The prosecution has no evidence and medical experts have spoken in support of the treatment given to the patient.

“The South African deputy ambassador and even offered to put him up in his own home, but to no avail. Instead, he’s been moved to the jail’s infirmary.

“The legal system is so different that if we appeal to a higher court against the bail refusal, the process could take another two years.”

Professor Karabus treated a three year old Yemini girl for leukaemia when he worked for Interhealth Canada at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi, for five weeks in 2002. The terminally ill child subsequently died , after the paediatrician left the UAE when his contract ended. He was convicted and subsequently sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment for manslaughter and falsifying documents which said that a blood transfusion had been ordered.

Professor Karabus had no knowledge of the 2002 manslaughter charge until he was arrested in Abu Dhabi at the Dubai International Airport on August 18 on his way home from his son’s wedding in Toronto, Canada.

“It looks a lot like revenge,” Mr Bagraim continued. “The judge said that if the prosecution can’t find the file by next week, they will discuss other options and the trial may be postponed again.”

The paediatrician from Cape Town, who has trained medical professionals all around the world, has received international support from members of the medical community and donations towards his legal costs which are expected to be in excess of $100,000.

If Professor Karabus, who has been stripped of his passport, money and belongings, is found guilty he will have to pay "blood money" to the family of the dead girl, in accord with the UAE legal system.

“The family is absolutely distraught and crying. We’re very despondent,” concluded Mr Bagraim.

Last updated: 2:36pm, October 4 2012