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New moves to cut court delays in UAE vows Minister of Justice

The Minister of Justice admitted delays were a problem, but said the ministry was trying to speed matters up to meet international standards.

ABU DHABI // New laws are on the way to reduce delays in reaching verdicts in court cases, the FNC was promised yesterday.

The new measures will cover areas such as court translators and experts, and the publication of summonses, said the Minister of Justice, Dr Hadif Al Dhaheri.

The minister admitted delays were a problem, but said the ministry was trying to speed matters up to meet international standards.

"We are keen to reach this," he said. "To have fast and just cases."

Dr Al Dhaheri's comments came amid criticism over repeated delays in the retrial of Cyril Karabus, a South African doctor arrested at Dubai airport in August and cleared in March of the manslaughter of a child he treated.

Dr Al Dhaheri said the courts could not treat foreigners and Emiratis differently. "All are in front of the court the same, according to the constitution," he said.

But FNC member Mosabeh Al Kitbi (Sharjah) said cases such as that of Dr Karabus showed the UAE in a bad light. "With media now, all countries connect together," he said. "So they look at us through media. We saw some delay that makes other countries push on our country."

Dr Karabus was acquitted last month, but prosecutors have appealed against the acquittal. After a further adjournment yesterday, South Africa urged prosecutors to withdraw their appeal and allow Dr Karabus to return home.

"It is time for him to be re-united with his family in South Africa," said Marius Fransman, deputy minister for international relations.

The case is being widely reported in the media and monitored by the South African government, which has repeatedly expressed its concern over the continued postponements in the case, Mr Fransman said.

Dr Karabus was working as a locum in October 2002 on a six-week contract at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi when cancer patient Sarah Adel, 3, suffered a brain haemorrhage, fell into a coma and died.

The doctor returned to South Africa, and in March 2004 was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced in his absence to four years in prison.

More than eight years later, in August last year, Dr Karabus was arrested at Dubai airport on his way home to South Africa after attending his son's wedding in Canada.

The doctor, who has a heart condition, was taken to Al Wathba Prison, where he remained in the medical unit for 57 days. He was released on bail last October, and a retrial was ordered.

The retrial was adjourned 13 times because of a delay in the presentation of a report from the Higher Committee for Medical Liability, appointed to give its verdict on the case.

The delay was the result of human error, Abu Dhabi Criminal Court was told in December, after Sheikh Khalifa Medical City staff overlooked a set of medical notes that had been requested for the committee to review and use to help present its findings.

osalem@thenational.ae

amustafa@thenational.ae

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