Publicity prolongs Indian-origin doctor's case

Sydney, Sep 23 (IANS) The trial of a high-profile case involving an India-born surgeon in Australia, who has been charged with causing grievous bodily harm to a patient, is getting delayed due to extraordinary publicity.

Brisbane district court judge Terence Martin warned Monday, the first day of the trial, that due to the publicity surrounding Jayant Patel, the selection of jurors would be more rigorous than an average trial, Australian media reported Monday.

Patel, who worked in the Bundaberg Base Hospital in the Australian state of Queensland, has been charged with causing grievous bodily harm to a 65-year-old patient, Ian Rodney Vowles, by unnecessarily removing his colon in 2004.

Patel Monday pleaded not guilty to the charge.

"This case is about alleged criminal medical negligence at the Bundaberg hospital... there has been extraordinary publicity about alleged happenings at that hospital in 2004 and 2005," The Australian quoted judge Martin as saying.

Six jurors have been excused after they told the judge that they could not be impartial, knew witnesses and could not commit to a three-week trial.

Twelve selected jury members and three reserves were also reportedly asked to complete a questionnaire to further clarify their ability to act impartially.

The judge also told the jurors not to discuss about the case with each other.

The Jamnagar, Gujarat-born Patel had a controversial tenure in the hospital from 2003 to early 2005, during which over 80 deaths were linked to him and 30 patients died in his care.

After that, he left for Portland, Oregon, in the US.

He was, however, extradited to Australia in 2008 to face trial.


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