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Police to Question Fugitive American Doctor in Italy

Doctors in Italy gave permission Monday for police to question a fugitive American doctor who was found in a tent at the snowy foot of Mont Blanc last week, a hospital spokesman said.

Mark Weinberger's conditions have improved since he stabbed himself in the neck after being apprehended Dec. 15 in Val Ferret, near Italy's northern border with France, Molinette hospital spokesman Pierpaolo Berra told The Associated Press.

The 46-year-old Weinberger, of Merrillville, Indiana, disappeared from his surgery clinic more than five years ago amid mounting charges of fraud and malpractice.

His self-inflicted injuries weren't life-threatening, Berra said, and hospital doctors examined Weinberger on Monday and gave permission for police to question him.

"Now it's up to the police whether to confirm or not the interrogation" originally scheduled for Tuesday, Berra said.

Weinberger was indicted by a federal grand jury in Hammond, Indiana, in 2006 on 22 counts of fraud for allegedly scheming to overbill insurance companies for procedures that were either not needed or sometimes never performed.

In addition, Weinberger is facing around 300 civil claims filed by patients against him, his one-time Merrillville attorney James Hough has said.

Weinberger was discovered after a mountain guide tipped off authorities that he was in Val Ferret, living in a tent with high-tech mountain survival gear. Police say he stabbed himself in the neck with a knife he had hidden as he was taken into custody.

Berra said Weinberger hadn't managed to cut his jugular vein. As a result, no surgery was necessary. However, he sustained injuries to the muscles that control his tongue.

It was unclear how long Weinberger has been in Italy.

Carabinieri Maj. Cesare Lenzi in Aosta, near where he was discovered, said police believe he had rented an apartment in the ski resort town of Courmayeur this year.

"But we don't know when he entered Italy, or if he had been somewhere else before here," he said.

Lenzi said a lawyer had been appointed by a court, although it wasn't clear if Weinberger had obtained another attorney.

The mystery surrounding Weinberger, who was known as the "Nose Doctor," began when he disappeared while traveling with his wife in Greece. He was the subject of an international dragnet and his case was featured on "America's Most Wanted" as recently as August.

U.S. prosecutors are working to request Weinberger's extradition from Italy, a process that could take a year or more unless Weinberger waives extradition.