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Karabus thanks SA for support

Posted : 20 May 2013
CAPE Town doctor Prof Cyril Karabus was welcomed back to the country yesterday amid great fanfare, with bands‚ banners and dignitaries , after spending nine months under arrest in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Karabus‚ 78‚ was arrested while in transit through the Middle Eastern country in August last year‚ in connection with the death of a child in 2003.

He had been convicted in absentia of manslaughter and of falsifying medical records.

He spent 57 days in a prison hospital ward and the rest of the time with an expatriate South African family.

At a press conference at Cape Town International Airport yesterday‚ Karabus‚ an emeritus professor at the University of Cape Town and a specialist paediatric oncologist‚ said it was a relief to be home after the uncertainty of his time in the UAE.

He thanked South Africa for its support, and said this had been critical for his release.

“I really must thank everybody. Your support has just been fantastic,” an exhausted Karabus said.

The paediatric oncologist had been detained in the UAE since August 18, after being sentenced in absentia for the death of a Yemeni girl he treated for leukaemia in 2002.

He was acquitted on March 21, and won the case again on appeal, but his return to South Africa was delayed because he was on the UAE’s database as a fugitive from justice.

There were also administrative delays in obtaining his passport from UAE authorities, and problems with his visa.

Karabus said the ordeal had affected him, but not too badly.

“I’m a fairly stable, or unfeeling if you like, person, so it probably had more impact on my wife and kids than on me,” he said of his nine-month detention.

He said there had been ups and downs in that time, but that he had somehow coped.

Karabus arrived to cheers and applause as he was escorted through the arrivals terminal to be reunited with his wife, Jennifer.

They hugged and kissed, surrounded by family and friends.

He slowly made his way to greet and shake the hands of some of the many supporters.

Sekunjalo Investments chairman Iqbal Survé‚ who had trained under Karabus‚ said the essential point was that he was innocent.

Karabus’s lawyer, Michael Bagraim, heaped praise on the media for keeping the issue alive.

“We take our freedoms in South Africa for granted‚” he said.

“As a lawyer‚ I am used to a process and getting a result.

“We couldn’t get that there. It was the press that kept the issue alive,” Bagraim said.

Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Marius Fransman also praised the media‚ saying that without the awareness raised it would have been difficult to resolve the issue.

Last month‚ in an unexpected move‚ the Abu Dhabi appeals court acquitted Karabus on all charges.

The doctor was first acquitted in a criminal court in March after a medical review committee said the three-year-old cancer patient he had been treating had not died as a result of his negligence.

However‚ the prosecution appealed against the decision on the grounds that the girl’s life support had been turned off before she could be considered brain-dead, under international guidelines.

This is a version of an article that appeared in the print edition of the Weekend Post on Saturday, May 18, 2013.

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