Dr. Death's extradition case hits roadblock in US

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Melbourne, July 12 : The extradition process of controversial Indian-born surgeon Dr. Jayant Patel, who has been charged with manslaughter by a Queensland court, has hit a road block as US State Department's Asia-Pacific bureau in Washington DC has received no word that the case has moved from Condoleezza Rice's desk.

Time is fast running out for US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to approve the extradition of Jayant Patel, news.com.au reported.

The former Bundaberg Hospital surgeon will be released on home arrest for a month on July 21 if Rice does not authorise Dr. Patel's extradition.

Patel, 58, has been imprisoned in Portland Oregon since his arrest on March 11 on 14 charges, including manslaughter, grievous bodily harm and fraud, related to the deaths of former patients at Bundaberg Hospital between 2003 and 2005.

Patel has agreed not to fight extradition and US federal judge Dennis Hubel has cleared the way for his return to Australia.

But under US law, the Secretary of State oversees the extradition of US citizens to foreign countries.

Beryl Crosby, head of the Bundaberg Hospital Patients' Support Group, said families of Patel's alleged victims were worried he would be released from jail before the US acts.

Patel's Brisbane solicitor Arun Raniga said he had heard nothing about the extradition timetable.

A State Department spokesman said Rice's future schedule was not made public for security reasons.

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