'Doctor Death' makes Australia court bid

SYDNEY - An Indian-born doctor jailed in Australia over fatally bungled surgeries was Friday granted special leave to appeal his conviction in the nation's highest court.

Dubbed "Doctor Death" by the local press, Jayant Patel was imprisoned for seven years in 2010 after a jury found him guilty of criminal negligence resulting in the deaths of three patients and injuring a fourth.

Patel had been convicted of gross negligence in the United States prior to working in Australia but failed to disclose the finding to his employers.

He lost an appeal last year against his conviction and sentence by Queensland's Supreme Court, but a High Court spokeswoman confirmed Friday he had been granted special leave to test his case in Canberra.

No date had yet been set but two days would be put aside for the hearing before a full bench, she told AFP.

The spokeswoman said leave was granted on a hearing on whether a section of Queensland's Criminal Code was incorrectly applied to Patel's case.

The charges on which Patel was found guilty stem from his employment as a surgeon at Queensland's Bundaberg Hospital between May 2003 and December 2004 and he was convicted on the basis that his decision to operate was criminal.

Patel's lawyers had also argued leave to appeal on the ground of alleged miscarriage of justice but this was not granted by the High Court, which referred it to the full bench hearing, the court spokeswoman said.