South African doctor held in UAE jail on 10-year-old charge

Cyril Karabus, known for apartheid-era treatment of black children, held for manslaughter of girl

The family of a 77-year-old South African doctor, known for his work treating black children with cancer during the apartheid era, expressed fears for his health yesterday as a court in the United Arab Emirates ruled that a medical panel should investigate a decade-old case against him.

Cyril Karabus, a leading paediatric oncologist, has already spent two months in Abu Dhabi's Al Wathba prison, which is notorious for its human rights abuse, after being arrested in Dubai for the manslaughter of a three-year-old girl in 2002. He was tried and convicted in absentia 10 years ago, but claims to have had no knowledge of the charge against him.

Abu Dhabi Criminal Court assigned a medical committee yesterday to examine records of the case, which are reported to have gone missing, and set the doctor's bail at Dh100,000 (£17,000).

The case against the doctor centres on whether or not he administered a blood transfusion to the infant, Sara Adel, who suffered from terminal leukaemia, while working as a locum at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in the UAE capital.

He claims that he treated the child, but she died anyway.

Close to tears, Dr Karabus' daughter Sarah, a paediatrician based in Cape Town, described the effect her father's detention is having on the family. "It's completely traumatic for all of us, utterly traumatic. He's an old man, he's unwell. He's a father of five and a grandfather of two, with another on the way who we just hope he will be back to meet."

Ms Karabus was with her father as he was pulled aside by police at the airport on 18 August as they were leaving the country after a 10-hour stop over in Dubai on their way back from a wedding in Canada.

"He had no idea what it was about," she said. She was forced to fly out of the country with the rest of family, as their visas were valid for only 24 hours, leaving her elderly father to face the charges alone. "He remembers the girl and he had talked about her before, but he had no idea there was a case against him."

Ms Karabus has said that her father – who worked at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital in Cape Town for 35 years, where he set up the haematology and oncology unit – appeared "broken" at previous court appearances and has been unable to call his family from jail, though he has told his lawyer he is generally being treated well. After his bail is paid, he will be allowed to leave jail, though his passport has been confiscated and he will not be allowed to leave the country.

"He's a man of integrity; he's not someone who deserves this," Ms Karabus said. "He stayed and worked in the public health service all his life because he wanted to save lives, not make money."

Dr Karabus, who was given a three-and-a-half-year term in absentia, was accused of failing to give a transfusion to the girl at the required time, and of falsifying medical records to make it appear as though he had. He had left the country by the time the child died. The British Medical Association has joined other professional groups around the world to condemn the detention of the doctor.

"Karabus is an elderly man in a fragile state of health, who is being held in conditions designed to break him and to weaken his health further. He is also a doctor being held in prison over his medical practice, apparently because that practice did not lead to a 100 per cent success rate," it said in an open letter. "Doctors considering working in the UAE should be aware that the conclusion of this case may have implications for how they practise."

The medical panel have until 20 November to report their findings, and the family remain cautiously hopeful. "The system is very different to any system we are used to, but they have now found the medical file, and if the file is intact it will exonerate him," said Sarah Karabus.

"We are hopeful but don't expect anything any more. I'm scared to get my hopes up."

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
life
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

DT Teacher - Graphics

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Part time Design and Technology...

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Head of Department - English

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: Head of Department for English. Wiltsh...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits