Cyril Karabus stepped into the arrivals hall at Cape Town International Airport to a rapturous welcome. A multiracial crowd numbering in the hundreds had turned out to greet him. A minstrel troupe was singing “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem.” And a rabbi stepped forward to recite the priestly blessing.
The arrival two weeks ago capped a nine-month saga in which Karabus, 78, was jailed in the United Arab Emirates on charges of manslaughter and fraud.
Unbeknownst to the retired pediatric oncologist, he had been convicted in absentia in connection with the death of a 3-year-old leukemia patient he had treated in 2002 during a six-week stint at Sheikh Khalifa Medical Center in Abu Dhabi.
While in transit in Dubai during his return from his son’s wedding in Toronto, he was shackled and detained by police in front of his wife, daughter, son-in-law and two small grandchildren.
I was “totally bloody shocked,” Karabus said of his arrest in Dubai in August.
Thus began the ordeal during which he was incarcerated in three jails for 57 nights and forbidden to leave the UAE.
Checking in for his flight in Toronto, Karabus had an inkling something was amiss: He was informed by the staff of Emirates Airlines that there was a security alert under his name. But following further investigation, he was told there was no problem and he could board.
“They were complicit in having me arrested, so they’re not a bloody airline, they’re a police force,” Karabus said. Representatives of Emirate Airlines did not respond to JTA requests for comment.
Following his arrest, the family called their South African lawyer, Michael Bagraim, at his home for advice. It was 3 a.m.