Melbourne, Mar 12: A family friend of Dr. Jayant Patel believes that his chances of having a fair trial in Australia are as good as what Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden would experience in the US. Vijay Mehta, a Texas surgeon, said Dr Patel's wife had told him of her husband's arrest by FBI agents in the US overnight. "If Osama bin Laden can get a fair trial in the United States, Jayant Patel can get a fair trial in Australia. That is almost like a foregone conclusion," he said. He (Dr. Patel's wife) acknowledged the arrest had been expected and she was on her way to talk to their lawyers, Dr. Mehta said. "They have been anticipating it for almost like three to four months that it will happen any day," he told ABC Radio this morning.
"He (Dr Patel) was in good spirits and just went with them. His wife has told me the best chance he has got is to fight extradition because they are not sure that they can even expect a fair trial in Australia with all the publicity and the demonising," The Australian quoted Mehta, as saying. Dr. Patel is linked to the deaths of 17 former patients at the Bundaberg Base Hospital in southeast Queensland. The 57-year-old was arrested in Oregon, with the FBI saying he was taken into custody without incident. Dr Patel was born in India but is a US citizen who worked for years in Oregon before losing his licence after a series of botched surgeries.
The Australian Government has been seeking his extradition to stand trial on charges, including manslaughter, grievous bodily harm and negligent acts. Dr Patel was due to face an Oregon court today for a hearing on the extradition request. Dr Mehta said Dr Patel should be charged with medical malpractice and having too many surgical complications. But charging him with manslaughter was going too far, he said.