Monday, July 21, 2008

Patel faces Brisbane court

US surgeon Jayant Patel has made his first appearance in a Brisbane court on 14 charges involving his time working at the Bundaberg Base Hospital.

He was escorted into the room and sat in the dock wearing handcuffs while his lawyer, Michael Byrne, announced he would apply for bail.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Tony Moynihan, opposed the request and sought an order to suppress certain parts of the proceedings.

Lawyers for News Limited are fighting the move for the suppression order.

Magistrate Brian Hine briefly adjourned the hearing to read submissions from both parties, and after getting underway adjourned the hearing briefly for a second time.

Patel is facing 14 charges, including three of manslaughter relating to his time as the director of surgery at the Bundaberg hospital between 2003 and 2005.

Patel arrived on a commercial flight earlier today from Los Angeles in the custody of two Queensland detectives.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has said she is confident a properly instructed jury is capable of assessing the evidence set before it and she praised the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for their legal work.

"I think they've demonstrated in very high-profile cases their capacity to hear the matter fairly," she said.

Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine has said he is relieved Patel is back in Queensland and he has defended the length of time it has taken to get him before an Australian court.

"I really can't alter the past whatsoever and I think it's important the Government proceed in the way it has done in the past in terms of negotiations that did take place," he said.

One of Patel's former colleague, Vijay Mehta, said Patel's wife is arranging to come to Australia.

"She got a chance to talk to Dr Patel before he left on the phone and Dr Patel was in good spirits," he said.

"I think she might be arriving with one or two friends or family or some supporters."

Meanwhile, three former patients of Patel waited outside the Brisbane Magistrates Court earlier today for his arrival at the Brisbane watch-house.

The Bundaberg Hospital Patients Support Group president, Beryl Crosby, said they were slightly nervous, apprehensive and keen to see Patel in court.

"We just needed to be here to go through this process of hearing the charges - I think it's important because it's part of the process," she said.

In Bundaberg, former patients and colleagues of Patel have welcomed his return to Queensland to face charges.


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