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Making Kafka Proud in Dubai Court

A contemporary variant of Kafka's "The Trial" is unfolding in Dubai.
Prof. Cyril Karabus

Prof. Cyril Karabus

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The “Trial,” the nightmarish novel of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, was written in 1914 and is one of Franz Kafka’s best-known works. A contemporary variant of that nightmare is unfolding in Dubai.

When the Australian airline Qantas recently announced a commercial deal with the Gulf-based airline Emirates, we started researching what this might mean to ordinary travelers to and from Australia. Then we began understanding its possible impact on Jews and Israelis. Then we came across the ongoing, scandalous and worrying story of a gentle, frail and very distinguished South African doctor caught up in the kind of nightmare that can only happen in places where the rule of law and transparency in the imposition of power are a form of inside joke.

While it’s an affair that directly affects just one man, the implications (as we noted in a previous post) of what is being done to Prof. Cyril Karabus are horrific. We feel air travelers planning to fly Qantas at some future time need to know them. The background is in these three earlier posts:

* 26-Sep-12: Dubai, Dubai, Dubai

* 15-Oct-12: Back to Dubai: Australian travelers might want to factor this report into their plans

* 21-Oct-12: Update on Prof. Cyril Karabus and his ongoing nightmare in United Arab Emirates

In brief: Prof. Karabus is a notable and honored professor of medicine with a lifetime of service to the community in his native South Africa. He is now 78. He passed through Dubai airport in the UAE on August 18, 2012 en route to his home after taking part in his son’s wedding in Canada.

In Dubai, he found himself under arrest; he was notified that he had been convicted a decade earlier on charges arising from the death of a three year old child he had treated for terminal cancer. No notification had ever been given to him at the time of the child’s death or since then. He knew nothing about it until he was arrested in transit at Dubai airport.

In court, having been obliged to hire lawyers, he denied any involvement in the charge of killing a young leukaemia patient. The prosecution was unable FOUR times to bring the files on the basis of which the elderly doctor was brought to court. So four times his application for bail could not proceed and he remained incarcerated in an appalling prison. Then finally he was granted bail, but was and still is unable to leave Dubai.

Now this week’s update, via a limited-circulation South African newspaper:

South African paediatric oncologist Prof Cyril Karabus (78), of Claremont, Cape Town, held on bail inAbu Dhabi since August 18 on a 10-year-old charge for which he was tried and found guilty in absentia, relating to the death of a child patient from leukaemia, is again in the ignominious situation of having his trial postponed for a further week, until December 13, due to a “missing folder” with details of the case history. Said his daughter, Sarah: “There is still no sign of the missing folder, and we are certain that it will never be found. If they find it, it will show the world that they convicted him erroneously, so we suspect it will remain ‘missing’. “I am not sure how long this farce will continue – even our lawyers are not sure of that,” she added… At the time of going to press on Wednesday, Michael Bagraim, the attorney representing Karabus, explained: “The trial is destined to reconvene tomorrow, Thursday December 13. At the last hearing, the prosecution, once again requested a postponement of a further month due to the fact that they were still unable to find the paperwork and the necessary hospital file. “Prof Karabus did address the judge by stating that he thought the request was an insult to the court and a waste of the country’s money. The judge tended to agree with this statement, and addressed the prosecution harshly about the continual postponements. “The judge then said that he would only agree to a seven-day postponement and he wanted a full explanation from the prosecution as to why they wanted to continue prosecuting without any paperwork. We are feeling quite hopeful about the appearance tomorrow, but obviously we are in the court’s hands. “There was a medical scare at the last hearing as Prof Karabus did indicate chest pains in the middle of the trial. He now appears to be alright, but certainly is very frail. We have hope in that even the newspapers in the UAE are indicating that Prof Karabus might not be guilty,” said Bagraim.

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About the Author: Frimet and Arnold Roth began writing and speaking publicly soon after the murder of their fifteen year-old daughter Malki Z"L in the Jerusalem Sbarro massacre, August 9, 2001 (Chaf Av, 5761). They have both been, and are, frequently interviewed for radio, television and the print media, including CNN, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, and others. Their blog This Ongoing War deals with the under-appreciated price of living in a society afflicted by terrorism which, they contend, means the entire world. Frimet is a native of Queens, NY while her husband was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. They brought their family to settle in Jerusalem in 1988. They co-founded the Malki Foundation in 2001 and are deeply involved in its work as volunteers. They can be reached at thisoingoingwar@gmail.com .


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