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Dr. Patel granted conditional bail

Melbourne: India-born surgeon Jayant Patel, who returned to Australia from the U.S. to face manslaughter and other charges in the deaths of over a dozen patients, was on Monday granted a conditional bail by a court in Brisbane.

The 58-year-old U.S. citizen, dubbed “Dr. Death” by the media here, will be released on Tuesday morning after he was given bail by Magistrate Brian Hine on a surety of 20,000 Australian dollars.

Dr. Patel, who will be back in the court in Queensaland state in September, has been asked to surrender his passport, report to police three times a week, not to approach any international departure points, live at a place approved by the Director of Public Prosecutions and reside in Queensland.

Earlier in the day, he arrived in the capital of Queensland from Los Angeles in a Qantas Airways flight, escorted by Australian police officers and was taken to a police watchhouse before being produced in the court.

Dr. Patel, who hails from Gujarat, is facing 13 charges, including manslaughter for the death of three of his patients, stemming from his time as director of surgery at the Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland from 2003 to 2005. If convicted, he could get a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The doctor who shifted to Oregon, U.S. after doubts about his work practices were raised in Australia, had on June 26 voluntarily agreed to his extradition. The US District Court in Oregon had set a July 21 deadline for extradition, failing which he would have been released on strict bail conditions.

Magistrate Hine said in granting bail he had taken into account the fact that it would take at least 12 months for the case to reach trial.

Complicated process

State Premier Anna Bligh said the court process against Dr. Patel would be long and complicated. “There will be many times when this matter will come before the courts before we see a formal committal hearing and beyond that a full trial,” Ms. Bligh told reporters.

The former patients of Dr. Patel, who have been fighting a long battle to ensure that he is brought back to stand trial in Australia, expressed relief over the extradition.

“I’m very apprehensive about it but I’m very excited that after all that hard years of work and everything that at last he is here,” Judy Kemps, whose husband was a patient of Dr. Patel and died after a surgery in December 2002, told the Australian Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Queensland opposition leader said the state government can take no comfort from the extradition and the health system still needs fixing. — PTI

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