Melbourne, Mar.20 : The simple baloney sandwich, a staple meal in US prisons, has emerged as a thorny issue in the extradition battle between Dr. Jayant Patel and the Australian Government, with the jailed surgeon's lawyer complaining to a judge that Patel, a vegetarian and devout Hindu, was not being served vegetarian meals at the Multnomah County Detention Centre in Portland, Oregon.
News.com.au quoted Susan Russel as saying that her client Patel had barely eaten since arriving at the jail on March 11.
However, Multnomah County Sheriff Deputy Travis Gullberg said there was a simple reason why Patel had received baloney sandwiches and other meals containing meat the past nine days.
"He hasn't asked for vegetarian meals," Gullberg said.
Patel's lawyer raised the food issue as one argument for Patel's release on bail while he fought extradition to Australia for 16 charges, including three manslaughter offences, allegedly committed while head of surgery at Queensland's Bundaberg Base Hospital between 2003 and 2005.
Patel, 57, said in court he told a social worker when he first arrived at the jail he could not eat meat.
Judge Dennis J Hubel appeared outraged that Patel's dietary needs were not being met.
Judge Hubel told the Marshal to pass on the message to the jail that Patel must be served vegetarian meals - starting with dinner that night, but Patel did not get it.
According to Deputy Gullberg, when new inmates arrive at the detention centre they are given a handbook that serves as an information guide to prisoners.
It tells the inmates, who receive three meals a day, they must submit in writing a request for special meals.
Thanks to today's media inquiries it appears Patel will not have to look at or smell another baloney sandwich.
Judge Hubel has reserved his decision on whether to release Patel on bail, although a decision may come next week.