Release Professor Karabus whose trial is today

Today is the trial of Professor Karabus in the UAE.

On 26 September TAC sent a letter to the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation requesting urgent intervention in the case of Professor Cyril Karabus. We have not received a proper reply. Professor Karabus served most of his life as a paediatrician in the South African public health system. He worked for many years at Red Cross Children’s Hospital. By all accounts he has dedicated his life to public service. After retiring, he worked as a locum in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). No doubt if Professor Karabus had instead spent his life working in the private sector, he would not have needed to supplement his income in this way. Nevertheless, the UAE which has a shortage of locally produced doctors, teachers and other essential professionals should be grateful to have had the professor’s services. Instead the UAE has treated Professor Karabus by violating his rights.

Professor Karabus is on trial in the UAE for the manslaughter of a child who died of leukaemia. The trial is a farce. In contradiction of accepted human rights principles, the burden of proof falls upon the accused in the UAE. There is no presumption of innocence. Medical records which would apparently exonerate the professor have not been given to his lawyers.

We have learned that the South African embassy has done almost nothing to assist Professor Karabus. We have also learned that the UAE regularly imprisons South Africans or takes away their passports on spurious charges or for being in debt. The high-profile case of Professor Karabus highlights the problems of the UAE’s justice system. The South African embassy does nothing to intervene in these cases.

We are disappointed by the failure of the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and the South African embassy in the UAE to do anything substantial to secure the release of Professor Karabus or other South African citizens who are mistreated by the UAE’s unjust justice system.

Professor Karabus was arrested in the UAE when he flew there en route to South Africa from a family visit in Canada. We are astonished that the airline failed to warn Professor Karabus that he was wanted in the UAE.

We call on people who share our abhorrence for the UAE’s justice system to stop flying Emirates and to not visit the UAE.

A trust account has been set up to assist Professor Karabus’ defence:

Bagraims Attorneys Trust Account

ABSA, Heerengracht

Account Number: 407-103-4654

Branch Code: 506 009

Reference: Professor Karabus Fund


Below is an email sent by Professor Karabus’ daughter, Sarah Karabus.

Hi – just a brief update re my father.

 Unfortunately things are not going well at all.

 He remains in Abu Dhabi on bail awaiting his next trial date, scheduled for 20 Nov(3 months since his arrest)

At the bail hearing on Oct 11 the court had ordered that a medical tribunal be appointed to review the medical file of the patient; also that a copy of the file be delivered to the lawyers in order for them to prepare for his defence.

 To date, the lawyers have been unable to establish whether the medical tribunal has seen the file, or even been appointed.

The lawyers received their copy of the file for the first time only on Sunday 11 Nov. When the file was delivered, all of my father’s notes had been removed, as well as notes from the 3 weeks prior to him taking over the patient’s care. Everything is gone – there is not a lab report, the operation notes, the ICU notes/charts – nothing.  

The absence of these notes which would exonerate him is very disturbing and we are all feeling very disheartened. That the exact material required by the legal team in order to prove his innocence is the only material missing from the medical file, is particularly suspect.

 There is only a week until the next court appearance and with no evidence available, we are unable to mount a legal defence

 I fear they will forge the missing evidence as they did in the case of Dr Eugen Adelsmayr 3 weeks ago when they convicted him of murder.

 Thanks again for all your concern thus far