Today's post is prompted by a news article that appeared on a South African news site yesterday [see "Blood money at root of charges"]. That was based on a phone interview Prof. Karabus gave to the Cape Times on Sunday. Here's the essence of it:
- Prof. Karabus, aged 78 and frail, is due to appear in a United Arab Emirates court tomorrow, Wednesday, for the thirteenth time since he was arrested, and then imprisoned, on August 18, 2012.
- At the time, he was in Dubai airport as a passenger on Qantas' new strategic partner, Emirate Airlines, passing through as a transit passenger after the wedding in Canada of one of his children. When he was arrested four and a half months ago, he had no knowledge that he faced prosecution in the United Arab Emirates, or that he had been ordered to pay a huge fine as "blood money" - the name given to the payment by the court.
- The nightmare arises from the fact that nearly a decade ago he treated a three-year-old Yemeni child called Sarah Adel Abdulla who was afflicted with acute myeloid leukemia. He was engaged as a locum at the the Sheikh Khalifa Medication Centre in Abu Dhabi at that time.
- In 2004, after he had left, he was convicted in his absence, and sentenced to four years’ jail. The allegation made to an empty court was that he had failed to give the child a blood transfusion, and that he had falsified the child’s medical records to make it appear as if he had.
- The UAE prosecutors have produced no evidence to support these allegations. Nor have they managed to provide the court with the original medical files of the child who died. The prosecution did however deliver up photocopied pages purporting to be a copy of the original medicals. These pages, on inspection, turn out to show that the dead child had indeed been given a transfusion. Prof. Karabus has all along said that a transfusion was indeed given, and the criminal charge against him is bogus.
- Prof. Karabus’s wife says the South African embassy has done nothing to help her husband other than to give him newspapers in prison and to arrange for its consul to attend court hearings.
- The elderly doctor - in the words of the South African newspaper, an "eminent paediatrician" - was forced to sleep on a blanket on a bare concrete floor in the notorious Emirates prison called Al Wathba for two months.
- While he was imprisoned, and when he was brought to the court for the first few hearings (as we wrote above, tomorrow's will be the thirteenth), his legs and wrists were shackled irons.
- Since being (finally) granted bail after several abortive attempts, he has been the house guest of another South African resident in Abu Dhabi. That second doctor, Elwin Buchel, has recently been informed that his permit to work at a military hospital in Abu Dhabi, will not be renewed and he now has thirty days to leave the area.
We end this post with the same comment we made in our previous one. There's some sound advice in this South African Medical Association article for people traveling to the United Arab Emirates "in the naive belief that similar human rights protections to those they knew at home" will apply to them. It's information that the Australian airline Qantas might consider passing along to its passengers and customers. (To understand why, please review another previous post: "15-Oct-12: Back to Dubai: Australian travelers might want to factor this report into their plans".)