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Saturday, 5 April 2008

Dr Jayant Patel's bid to be free from a US jail while he fights extradition to Queensland on manslaughter charges has been rejected.

The former head of surgery at Bundaberg Base Hospital faces the prospect of spending the next two years sharing cells with murderers, rapists and drug dealers if his extradition battle with the Australian government drags on.
Patel, 57, has been held at the high-security Multnomah County Detention Centre, in Portland, Oregon since FBI officers arrested him at his million dollar home on March 11."I conclude that the respondent should be detained for the duration of these extradition proceedings," Judge Dennis Hubel ruled today in the US District Court in Portland.Australian authorities have charged Patel with 16 offences, including three counts of manslaughter, three counts of grievous bodily harm and fraud.
The manslaughter and grievous bodily harm charges relate to alleged botched operations he performed during his employment at the Bundaberg hospital between 2003 and 2005.If Patel is extradited to Queensland and found guilty, he could potentially be sentenced to a lengthy jail sentence.Judge Hubel noted this in his bail decision.
"The penalties which the respondent potentially faces if extradited and convicted in Australia are substantial enough to create a motive to flee," he said.
Patel's lawyer, Susan Russell, argued at a March 18 bail hearing Patel was not a flight risk and, as a vegetarian and devout Hindu, had struggled in jail after his arrest because of inadequate food and an inability to shower as frequently as his religious beliefs require him."While the respondent had difficulty obtaining a diet consistent with his religious practices when he was first incarcerated, the court is advised that pursuant to the court's order, this problem has been remedied and respondent now receives appropriate meals on a regular basis," Judge Hubel wrote.Russell also told the judge Patel, a US citizen, has not attempted to flee his home in Portland or leave the US the past two years despite the prospect of the Australian government moving to charge and extradite him.
US prosecutors pointed to Patel's wealth and his ties to his country of birth, India, as reasons for Patel to remain in jail."Despite the tenor of much of the evidence suggesting that the respondent will not flee, the motivation and means to flee cannot be ignored," Judge Hubel decided.
"Moreover, this court does not have adequate information before it to eliminate or moderate the possibility that the respondent could regain his Indian citizenship and potentially an Indian passport with which to travel."
Judge Hubel did not shut the door on Patel winning bail in the future and said Patel "may seek review of this decision if he has new information to present at a later time".Patel suffered another legal and financial blow last week when the court ruled he was not eligible to use Russell, a US government funded lawyer, because he had "substantial assets" to pay for a private lawyer.Judge Hubel ordered Patel to pay back the US government for the work undertaken by Russell from March 11, the date of his arrest, to the March 18 bail hearing.Russell submitted an affidavit to the court today detailing the 28 hours of work she performed for Patel.The dollar figure Patel will have to pay was not disclosed in the affidavit, but is believed the standard rate is around $US100 ($A09) an hour.Patel's extradition hearing is set for April 18 in Portland.

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