The first words Cyril Karabus had said to his son in South Africa when he called to tell him the good news was: "Mikey, can you hear me? It's over."
"DIRCO is pleased to announce that Prof Karabus has been found NOT guilty today in the UAE court. He is free!" Monyela said Karabus was found not guilty after being tried for manslaughter in absentia and falsifying the medical documents of a patient.
A medical review committee had this week submitted its report to the court, clearing Karabus. Thirty-three-year-old Michael told the Mail and Guardian his father had sounded in good spirits on the phone and quipped that like the Pope Benedict, who also has a pacemaker, he should also now step down from work and rest.
"My father had not yet been brought to court, and by the time he rocked up this morning, they had already found him not guilty," said Michael on Thursday.
"He was tried in absentia, and he was found not guilty in absentia." The family are concerned there should not be any further delays in getting the professor home, because his health is poor and he has a pacemaker and has been suffering from angina.
However, it is unclear when he will be able to leave as there is apparently a 14 day process, in which the court gives the prosecution a time to appeal. The prosecution has, however, indicated it will not appeal. "We are working very hard with Dirco to see if we can't speed up this process," said Michael.
"We want to try to waive the appeal period."
Michael said his father had devoted his whole life to saving the lives of others, and the family had spent the past seven months trying to bringing him home.
The family was grateful for all the assistance they had received from the government and friends, he said, and the family were hoping to see his father home within 72 hours. "I am completely over the moon," he said. "We are so grateful for all the help from Dirco and from the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Marius Fransman."
The retired medical specialist lives in Cape Town and was arrested on August 18 last year, while in transit in Dubai to South Africa, after attending his son Matthew's wedding in Canada. His arrest, the family later found out, had to do with a short locum he did just under a decade ago at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi.
During this time, Karabus had treated a three-year-old leukaemia patient who died of myelocytic leukaemia, which is known to have a poor prognosis. Karabus had not been warned by the local authorities or the company that hired him to do a locum in Abu Dhabi that he was facing charges in the United Arab Emirates. Nor was he informed that he had also been tried in absentia in 2003, and been found guilty of fraud and manslaughter, following the death of his young patient.
For the past five months Karabus has been living with former Pretoria doctor Elwin Buchel, and for two months before that he was held in jail. His appearances in court were made at that stage in leg-irons, something which Michael had to witness on a visit to offer his father support.
Michael said he cannot wait for his father to meet his eight-week old baby, Gabriel Joseph Karabus, who was born in a time of huge tension for the family. "It's been a full-time job for my sister Sarah. She has petitioned every organisation. She has spoken to the United Nations, to the Canadian government, to the South African government, and she has been a real warrior," said Michael.
"We all pulled together and we really want to thank the South African government, who has been central to ensuring my father's freedom behind the scenes."
The news could not have come at a better time, as the spirits of the family were running low. Sarah Karabus, a popular paediatrician in Cape Town, recently told the M&G the family was feeling "drained" as the original medical file that would show his records of his treatment of the child was still missing.
It was only on the fifth attempt by his lawyers to get him released that the frail Karabus was finally granted bail last year.
At his final bail hearing the court ordered that the original medical file relating to the case must be produced by the hospital, and ordered that a specialist medical panel must be appointed to review it. However, neither the original medical record, nor the specialist medical panel has yet been produced.
An elated Michael said the family was glad the nightmare was now over, and they were looking forward to celebrating his father's 78th birthday with him in South Africa next month.