Sydney, Mar 27: Following a plea from Dr Jayant Patel, better known as "Dr Death" for his several botched up operations, that he could not afford hiring a lawyer to defend himself and asked for a government-sponsored counsel, a US judge blocked the public release of his financial details.
The figures include the value of the Portland home Dr Patel owns outright with his wife, Kishoree, a doctor in the Portland, and the value of his retirement account. His wife's salary and retirement account details have also been blacked out. The ruling was given by US District Court Judge Dennis Hubel while delving on the doctor's plea to force American taxpayers to pay his legal bills. He is charged with 16 offences related to alleged botched operations while head of surgery at Queensland's Bundaberg Base Hospital.
Dr Patel, in a plea to Hubel in Portland, Oregon, last week said his assets were insufficient to hire a lawyer for the extradition battle in the US courts, and requested a US government-funded lawyer, reported the news.com.au. Dr Patel's plea was prepared by one of Portland's best-known private lawyers, Marc Blackman.
US prosecutors countered the plea, arguing that Dr Patel had enough finances to pay for a lawyer, owned his home and had no personal debt. "Fugitive Patel plainly has 'net financial resources' sufficient to obtain counsel. The fugitive Patel can afford a lawyer, and his application for taxpayer-funded counsel should be denied," the report quoted assistant US attorneys Dwight Holton and Ethan Knight as saying in their submissions.
The prosecutors' 11-page submission is full of blacked-out areas where Dr Patel's financial details are listed. Judge Hubel made the decision to withhold the details after holding a teleconference with Holton and Blackman today.
Dr Patel's bid to retain a government-funded lawyer suffered a significant setback last week when the body that appoints the lawyers, the US Federal Public Defender's Office, ruled Dr Patel did not qualify for one. Dr Patel (57) has been held in Portland's high-security prison, the Multnomah County Detention Center, since his arrest on March 11.
Australian authorities are seeking Dr Patel's extradition on 16 charges, including three counts of manslaughter, grievous bodily harm and fraud while working in Bundaberg between 2003 and 2005.
Dr Patel last week asked Judge Hubel for bail, but the judge is yet to make a decision, expected later this week or next.