The long, long wait for freedom

South African doctor Cyril Karabus had not yet received his passport back from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by Tuesday afternoon, his lawyer said.

"Professor Karabus went down to the court to complete all the paper work today [Tuesday] and he feels like he is one step closer to leaving," lawyer Michael Bagraim said.

"He is also doing a little bit better today but the wait and the process is draining. We still don't have the passport but we are much closer to having it."

Karabus completed all the paperwork necessary and he filled in all the forms he needed to complete for his passport to be returned and for him to leave the UAE.

Bagraim said two things still needed to happen before Karabus could return.

The passport needed to be returned and his name needed to be removed from a computer system containing all the names of people convicted of a criminal offence.

"We think his name has been removed from the list, we are just waiting for the physical passport," Bagraim said.

The 78-year-old paediatric oncologist has been detained in the UAE since August 18 last year, after being sentenced in absentia for the death of a Yemeni girl he treated for leukaemia in 2002.

He was acquitted on March 21, but not allowed to leave the country pending the appeal.

On April 24, the UAE lost its appeal against his earlier acquittal after an appeal judge said Karabus was not guilty on all charges.

Bagraim said Karabus's family was hopeful that he would be on the direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Cape Town on Thursday morning.

"We are hopeful and aiming for him to be on the 6am flight on Thursday morning to arrive in Cape Town the same night," he said.

"The family is busying themselves with the homecoming. We want to make it an exciting event like a jamboree."

On Monday, the UAE cleared Karabus to travel.

- Sapa

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