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Police ready to get Patel

Paula Doneman

November 20, 2006 11:00pm

Article from: The Courier-Mail

POLICE will today take the first step to extradite disgraced surgeon Jayant Patel back to Queensland to face charges of killing and maiming patients at Bundaberg Hospital.

Police will apply to a magistrate in chambers to approve arrest warrants to be issued against Patel on three manslaughter, five grievous bodily harm, negligent acts and fraud charges.

The charges include a manslaughter charge relating to a fifth patient that police referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare in September – three months after she recommended the State Government accept a controversial deal to return Patel to Queensland to face the courts.

A Queensland Government inquiry referred 17 patient deaths linked to Patel at the Bundaberg Base Hospital to police last year. A protracted police investigation followed with homicide and fraud detectives compiling a 35,000-page brief of evidence recommending four charges of manslaughter, eight counts of grievous bodily harm and 16 counts of fraud against Patel. The brief was referred to Ms Clare on February 6.

Ms Clare last night told The Courier-Mail the approval for the warrants was not a foregone conclusion and details of the charges would not be released until warrants were issued.

"It will require a magistrate to exercise his or her independent discretion upon the material provided," she said.

If the warrants are approved by the magistrate, it will initiate the lengthy extradition process to return the former rogue surgeon from the US, where he fled in April last year.

The warrants will then be referred to the Federal Attorney-General and if approved, he will forward an extradition request to the US Justice Department.

A court hearing will be held and if the application is approved, US marshals can arrest Patel, who has 60 days to fight the extradition. If he does not contest the action, he will be immediately returned to Queensland.

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