Australian authorities have dropped four charges against India-born surgeon Jayant Patel, linked to the deaths of 17 former patients, but they will still pursue 16 charges against him.
Patel, dubbed as 'Dr Death' by the media in Melbourne, fled Australia for the US in April 2005 after being implicated in a string of patient deaths at the Bundaberg hospital in Queensland where he worked as director of surgery.
The government is now trying to get him extradited so that he can face trial in Australia.
Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare said on Wednesday that after discussions with the US lawyer who will conduct the extradition application, additional statements had been sought from an expert witness relating to a number of the charges against Patel.
"On the basis of the evidence from this witness, two charges of grievous bodily harm and two charges of negligent acts causing harm will not proceed," Clare said.
But she said 16 charges remained active and would be pursued. "They comprise three charges of manslaughter, three charges of grievous bodily harm, two charges of negligent acts causing harm and eight charges of fraud."
An inquiry had linked the 50-year-old surgeon to 17 deaths during his two years at Bundaberg Hospital.