Professor Cyril Karabus

Caoe Town - Cape Town professor Cyril Karabus, who has been detained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a charge of manslaughter, was finally given a chance to defend himself before a special medical council on Wednesday.

The council was elected by a judge last year to assess whether Karabus’s case warranted a trial or not, his lawyer, Michael Bagraim, told the Cape Argus on Wednesday.

Bagraim said this council would advise the judge whether or not to continue with the trial. The judge would make a ruling on February 27.

“We are happy that they invited him to speak to them, but we are concerned that there is no oncologist on the panel or in Abu Dhabi and this is an oncology matter,” Bagraim said.

“It would have been better if he got a chance to defend himself before oncologists - his peers who had an insight on the subject,” he added.

Karabus, pictured, was arrested at Dubai airport while travelling with his family on August 18 last year - almost a decade after being convicted.

The 77-year-old is a specialist paediatric oncologist from Kenilworth. He was tried and convicted in absentia in the UAE in 2003, and sentenced to three years in prison for falsifying documents and six months for manslaughter.

The prosecutor is pursuing a motion to ask the court to drop the charges of falsifying documents.

Karabus had worked as a locum at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi in 2002.

Prosecutors argue that he failed to give a blood transfusion to a three-year-old Yemeni cancer patient, and had caused her death, during an operation at the medical centre. She later died of myeloid leukaemia.

In a move to put pressure on UAE authorities and garner support for Karabus, Bagraim said a protest would be staged outside the 6th World Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Congress, to be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Monday.

The conference will be attended by medical professionals from all over the world.

“We are going to hand out pamphlets and we will be asking doctors from Abu Dhabi and Palestine for help on the case,” he said.

The protest will start at 8am.

Recently, Marius Fransman, the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, promised to intervene in a bid to secure Karabus’s return to South Africa.

Cape Argus