THE manslaughter trial of South African paediatric oncologist Cyril Karabus was adjourned on Tuesday until December 6 after the court in Abu Dhabi was told a key medical file was missing.
An independent medical panel had also been due to give its verdict at Tuesday’s hearing over whether Prof Karabus bore responsibility for the death of one of his patients in October 2002.
He had been treating the three-year-old girl from Yemen at a clinic in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The girl suffered from acute leukaemia. The court was told the panel’s report was not ready, a leading newspaper in Abu Dhabi, the National, reported.
Prof Karabus, aged 77 and from Cape Town, was in court on Tuesday with his wife Jenifer. He was arrested in the UAE last August as he was passing through Dubai. Last month he was released on bail but is not allowed to leave the Gulf state.
At Tuesday’s brief hearing, one of his two lawyers said the case file given to the defence was empty after July 31 2002.
"The case file is missing entries from that date until the day of the incident on October 19," Khalfan Al Kaabi said.
He asked for the defence to be given access to the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City’s original file to prove the professor’s innocence.
Adjourning the case, the trial judge said the court would request the original file and wait for the panel’s medical report.
The professor was charged in 2002 with murder — without his knowledge — but that was reduced to manslaughter and his conviction of murder, in absentia, was set aside.
The Karabus case has attracted international attention. On Monday, Cecil Wilson, the president of the World Medical Association, called for all the relevant papers to be made available to the defence.
"We are very concerned that Prof Karabus should have a fair trial by international standards. That means that his defence team must be given full access to all the evidence against him, which at the moment appears not to be the case," Dr Wilson said.
Some of the professor’s supporters have accused the authorities in South Africa of dragging their heels on the case and failing to offer the family enough support. This assertion was denied on Monday by his daughter, Sarah Karabus, a paediatric allergist in Cape Town.
She said the Department of International Relations and Co-operation was in regular touch with the family as were South African diplomats in the UAE.
At a media briefing in Cape Town yesterday, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane said South Africa would continue to engage with the UAE authorities about the case until the situation was resolved.