Johannesburg - It is time to allow South African doctor Cyril Karabus to return home from Abu Dhabi, the department of international relations said on Thursday.
“Whilst respecting the sovereignty of the UAE... the South African government believes that the matter must be brought to a speedy conclusion, so that the professor can finally be reunited with his family,” said spokesman Clayson Monyela.
He said it had been confirmed that Abu Dhabi prison authorities were in possession of Karabus's passport and “must first clear his name from a database before his passport can be returned”.
Karabus application to have his passport released was currently being processed.
Monyela said the South African Embassy in Abu Dhabi continued to render consular assistance to Karabus and his family, and was communicating with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities “to expedite the matter”.
The 78-year-old paediatric oncologist has been detained in the UAE since August 18 last year, after being sentenced in absentia for the death of a Yemeni girl he treated for leukaemia in 2002.
He was acquitted on March 21 and won an appeal, but his return to South Africa was delayed because he was on the UAE's database as a fugitive from justice.
His bail money of R250 000 was returned to him on Monday, but he still had to wait for his passport from Abu Dhabi prison authorities.
On Tuesday, Karabus's lawyer Michael Bagraim said the protracted ordeal was largely due to the UAE trying to “save face”.
“The reality of the situation is that it was very convenient. Find him guilty, don't offer him a locum here again, he won't come back, we'll never see him, the hospital will pay money, let's close the file,” he said.
When Karabus eventually found out he had been charged with manslaughter, he chose to maintain his innocence instead of pleading guilty and getting out of the country.
“It's been an embarrassment ever since, having him there. That's what it's all about, face-saving,” said Bagraim. - Sapa