Dr. Death's extradition to Australia still in doubt

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Sydney, July 17 : Confusion surrounds the extradition of Dr Jayant Patel, a doctor of Indian origin who acquired the sobriquet "Dr Death" for botching several surgeries resulting in his patients deaths, from the US to Australia.

A US District Court judge has ordered Patel's court file be kept secret, amid reports he ordered that Patel not be handed to Australian authorities without the court's permission.

News Ltd reported this morning that the judge had ordered Patel not to be released without a further order from the District Court, but the court is not saying what, if anything, it further ordered.

If its report is correct, it may dampen expectations in Queensland that Patel would be back within days, or by the week's end, even though the discredited surgeon has consented to his extradition.

It is not even known if Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has signed the extradition order, which must be done before Patel is handed over.

Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence said that she does not expect any problems with Patel's extradition.

But she said she did not know when Patel would return to Australia, the Stdney Morning Herald reported.

Patel was released from prison to the US Marshal Service in Portland, Oregon, and was transferred to Los Angeles, where he is now in jail awaiting his extradition.

Officials at the Metropolitan Detention Centre confirmed Patel was in custody there, while two Queensland detectives are in California waiting to collect him.

The prison is in downtown Los Angeles, and is capable of holding all types of prisoners, from low to high security.

US and Australian authorities are racing to complete the paperwork necessary to extradite the surgeon to Queensland to face 14 charges, including manslaughter.

When the paperwork is completed, US Marshals will take Patel from the Los Angeles jail and hand him over to the Queensland detectives for the flight to Brisbane.

Patel is expected to board a Brisbane-bound plane with the detectives, Darryl Johnson and Graham Walker, in the next few days.

Spence said in Brisbane today that Patel was still in the custody of US Marshals.

ANI

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