Jail taking toll on SA profComment on this story
Cape Town - Cape Town professor Cyril Karabus suffered yet another blow on Tuesday when his court case was postponed for another two weeks due to missing medical files.
Karabus, 77, of Claremont, has now been detained in Abu Dhabi for more than three months.
A specialist paediatric oncologist, he was arrested on August 18 while in transit in Dubai to SA from his son’s wedding in Toronto, Canada.
He was tried and convicted in absentia in the United Arab Emirates on charges of manslaughter and falsifying documents and sentenced to three years and six months in jail. He was granted bail in an Abu Dhabi court on October 11, after four unsuccessful bail attempts.
Twelve years ago Karabus worked as a locum at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi and operated on a seven-year-old cancer patient who later died of leukaemia.
At his bail hearing, the court ordered that a medical tribunal be appointed to review the medical file of the patient Karabus is alleged to have mistreated, but the crucial part of his legal defence - his personal notes - have gone missing.
The case was postponed to December 6.
His daughter, Sarah Karabus, told the Cape Argus on Wednesday that at the trial the judge ordered “yet again” that the medical file be presented and reviewed by the medical committee.
“They are dragging it out for no apparent reason which is basically torture and denying my father his rights to a fair trial.”
She said that allegedly there was a court order in 2004 that the medical file be destroyed.
“We are unable to ascertain if this is indeed the case as no-one at the court will answer that question. If it has indeed been destroyed then this whole ‘trial’ has been a farce from the start which makes this even more tragic than it already is,” she said.
Karabus’s lawyer Michael Bagraim said he found it “suspicious” that the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre, with a world-class computerised filing system, would misplace such important records.
He explained that the missing file contained medical notes from the week that Karabus was ministering and when the child died. “We suspect that the notes were destroyed. This is a crucial part in his defence.”
Bagraim said after the trial’s postponement that Karabus was “despondent” and nearly in tears all the time.
“He doesn’t know what do to. Everyone involved is feeling very down.” Karabus has a pacemaker for his heart.
“We have encouraged him to see a doctor in the next few days as his blood pressure is currently very high,” said Bagraim.
International Relations and Co-operation spokesman Clayson Monyela said a South African embassy official visited Karabus regularly.