Australia's Dubious Dr. Jayant Patel
Based on the testimonies of the hospital's staff, surviving patients and family members of those who died in his care, the Commission of Inquiry recommended in June 2005 that Patel be charged with one count of murder in the death of James Phillips and at least two counts of bodily harm, including against Marilyn Daisy. They further recommended that he be charged with fraud for removing any mention of his being banned to practice in the United States from his application to practice medicine. If he is charged with murder and convicted, Patel could face up to life in prison. But thus far, no official charges have yet been filed.
Prosecutors have been busy trying to strike a deal with Patel's Portland lawyer to get him to voluntarily return to Australia for questioning. He could face extradition under a 1974 treaty between the United States and Australia, but it would be a complicated and lengthy process that still would not guarantee his return. Patel is believed to be holed up at his Washington County home located outside of Portland, although he may be elsewhere.
Queensland Police and Interpol are working with authorities in the U.S. to try to trace Patel. The Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson was quoted as saying, "We will do everything possible to locate him and I'm very, very confident that our inquiries will be successful in that regard," Foley reported. However, Patel's lawyer, Stephen Houze, doesn't believe his client will be given a fair trial if he were ever to return to Australia, because the case has elicited so much media attention.
While prosecutors are battling to get Patel back, the inquiry continued on. It has since been moved from Brisbane to Bundaberg, closer to where Patel's victims and hospital staff live and work. Many of them are expected to testify, even though some of the victims are terribly sick and hardly able to leave their homes. For most, the chance that their testimony might one day lead to Patel's eventual imprisonment is well worth the effort.