Cape Town - Cape Town professor Cyril Karabus has spoken out about his arrest and incarceration over the last four months on charges of manslaughter and falsifying documents in Abu Dhabi.
He told the Cape Argus on Thursday he was losing patience and was frustrated with the legal system in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He said he wanted to come home to his family and friends.
“Things are not great. I would like to go home now to my family. I miss the Cape Town weather, my friends and working in my garden,” he said.
He was speaking from an apartment in Abu Dhabi, where he is living with Dr Elwin Buchel, the former head of gastroenterology at the University of Pretoria.
Buchel, whom he had never met in person before, offered him accommodation after he was granted bail last month.
“I am grateful for people like him and others who have sent messages of support from around the world. It’s very heart-warming,” Karabus, a specialist paediatric oncologist, said.
The UCT emeritus professor was arrested on August 18 while in transit in Dubai to South Africa from his son’s wedding in Toronto, Canada.
“It was very upsetting. No one gave me any warning about the pending arrest. I was very shocked and upset… I still am,” he said.
Karabus’s passport was confiscated at the airport.
After more than nine postponements due to missing medical records, which surfaced this week, he is expected to appear in court on January 3.
Karabus, 77, is accused of causing the death of a three-year-old Yemeni cancer patient who had myeloid leukaemia. He was convicted and sentenced in absentia to a three-and-a-half-year jail term.
Prosecutors argue that he failed to give her a blood transfusion during her treatment at the Sheikh Medical Centre in 2002, while working as a locum. Karabus is adamant that the medical records contain the girl’s medical history which is “vital” in proving his innocence. The medical file includes his notes, lab reports, as well as details of the three-week period before he started treating the girl.
“I did everything I could do for her. Unfortunately she had a blood disease which has 85 percent mortality rate. One in seven patients survives. Sadly, she was one of those that didn’t survive,” he said.
Karabus, pictured, is a senior paediatric specialist who headed Red Cross Children’s Hospital Ontology unit for more than 30 years.
“I decided to work as a locum in Abu Dhabi because I wanted to earn some extra money… unfortunately, doctors in South Africa don’t get paid much.
“Now I regret making that move, I now advise other people not to do it,” he said.
Karabus, who has a pacemaker, fears he might run out of medication soon.
“Although Buchel and embassy representatives are helping me access some of my medication, I’m afraid I might run out shortly.”
When he was granted bail, a medical committee was supposedly appointed by the court to review his medical records, but Karabus and his lawyers are still in the dark about the committee.
“We don’t know if that committee was appointed and if the people involved in it know anything about blood diseases. I have no idea what they are doing. There is not a lot of transparency here… I don’t know how much longer they can drag this on,” he said.