BRISBANE, Australia – A court issued warrants Wednesday for the arrest of a U.S.-based surgeon on three charges of manslaughter and five charges of causing grievous bodily harm to patients at an Australian public hospital, a senior prosecutor said.
A government inquiry found that Jayant Patel, of Portland, Oregon, may have contributed directly to 13 deaths due to an "unacceptable level of care" at Bundaberg Base Hospital in the state of Queensland while he was director of surgery there in 2003-05.
In the state capital Brisbane, a statement from the office of Queensland's Director of Public Prosecutions, Leanne Clare, confirmed the warrants were issued in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for the arrest of the India-trained surgeon.
The warrants, issued at the request of police in a closed-court hearing, are the first step in an official extradition process. An extradition request must go through the federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock to ensure it meets conditions of the extradition treaty between Australia and the United States.
The request then would be forwarded to the U.S. Justice Department and a hearing in a U.S. court would be held. Patel could potentially appeal through the U.S. courts.
State Premier Peter Beattie told Southern Cross Broadcasting radio that Patel would likely not be extradited until next year.
Patel was hired at Bundaberg, a farming town 190 miles (350 kilometers) north of Brisbane, without disclosing that he had been disciplined for negligence by medical boards in Oregon and New York state, according to Australian authorities.
Patel, born in India and now a U.S. citizen, left Australia in April last year and has refused to discuss publicly the allegations against him.
Patel did not respond to a phone message left at his Portland home Tuesday.