Dirco: Karabus found not guilty, free to return home

Michael Karabus, son of SA professor Cyril Karabus, who has been detained in the UAE since August last year. (David Harrison, M&G)

Michael Karabus, son of SA professor Cyril Karabus, who has been detained in the UAE since August last year. (David Harrison, M&G)

"DIRCO is pleased to announce that Prof Karabus has been found NOT guilty today in the UAE court. He is free!" department of international relations and co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela tweeted on Thursday morning.

Karabus was convicted in absentia in the UAE on charges of manslaughter and falsifying documents after the death of a three-year-old cancer patient. He was sentenced, in absentia, to three years in jail.

Monyela said on Tuesday it was understood that a United Arab Emirates medical review committee had absolved Karabus from all blame.

Karabus (77) is an emeritus professor at the University of Cape Town and is a specialist paediatric oncologist.

Unaware of the charges and sentence, he was arrested and recharged in Dubai on August 18, while in transit on his return to South Africa from Toronto, in Canada.

Monyela confirmed the UAE court met on Tuesday and the medical review committee's report was presented to it.

Deputy International Relations and Cooperation Minister Marius Fransman spoke to Karabus and his legal team on Tuesday morning.

"The South African government is pleased that the medical committee has submitted its report to the court. "We call upon all South Africans to pray for the finalisation of the case and the safe and speedy return of Prof Karabus to South Africa," he said.

As a democratic state, South Africa respected the sovereignty and the independence of the UAE's judicial system.

"We wish to thank the government of the UAE and in particular the minister of foreign affairs, the deputy minister of foreign affairs, and the minister of state for the manner in which we have engaged on this matter," Monyela said.

Karabus, an internationally renowned medical specialist in paediatrics and oncology, spent his whole life trying to save the lives of others, his son Michael told the Mail & Guardian, and it was agony to witness him standing trial, particularly when he claims to be innocent of any wrongdoing.

His family has been extremely concerned about his health because he wears a pacemaker and is dependent on medication to stay alive.

"I grew up going to the Red Cross Children's Hospital every Saturday with my dad and I would play with the cancer patients," Michael (33) said. His father was the head of the oncology and haematology unit at the famous Cape Town hospital.

"My father has devoted his life to serving the sick and to see him being detained like this was quite unbelievable."

The elderly medical specialist, who lives in Cape Town, was arrested on August 18 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 five-week locum he did nearly a decade ago at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi.

During that time, Karabus treated a three-year-old patient who had acute myeloid leukaemia, a severe cancer of the blood. She later died as a result of her illness.

Additional reporting by Sapa.

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