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Family fears Dr Patel may not get fair trial

Legal experts and friends of Jayant Patel, who was arrested in the US on manslaughter charges over the death of his 17 patients, fear that the India-born doctor may not get a fair trial in Australia.

world Updated: Mar 12, 2008 15:50 IST

Legal experts and friends of Jayant Patel, who was arrested in the US on manslaughter charges over the death of his 17 patients, fear that the India-born doctor may not get a fair trial in Australia where the media has "demonised" him as 'Dr Death'.

"If Osama bin Laden can get a fair trial in the United States, Jayant Patel can get a fair trial in Australia. That is almost like a foregone conclusion," Patel's family friend Vijay Mehta, a Texas surgeon, was quoted as saying by AAP.

Mehta said Patel's wife had told him that they were expecting the arrest.

"They have been anticipating it for almost like three to four months that it will happen any day," he said adding Patel was "in good spirits and just went with them".

"His wife has told me the best chance he has got is to fight extradition because they are not sure that they can even expect a fair trial in Australia with all the publicity and the demonising," he said.

The Queensland government, however, discounted the possibility. Premier Anna Bligh, said courts in Australia can give a fair trial to Patel.

"My own view is that the reputation enjoyed by the courts of this country is that they are capable of giving a defendant a fair trial.

She denied claims the government feared what Patel would reveal about the health system if he were on trial.

"I have no fears about the court proceedings," Bligh said adding "I want those court proceedings, like any court proceedings, to be open and transparent, and on the public record."