Top surgeon nabbed for theft says he's not short of money

A prominent New Zealand-based surgeon has come out to defend himself after being arrested and released with a warning by Singapore authorities over the theft of a new wallet.

The New Paper understands that the theft took place at a Takashimaya store last year.

But Dr Adam El-Gamel, 58, was only caught while on transit last week on a flight from India.

The cardiothoracic surgeon was travelling with his wife Valerie from Auckland in New Zealand to India, where he was due to teach a new surgical technique to fellow doctors.

The family have New Zealand permanent residency with Dr El-Gamel holding a British passport.

Rule changes to British passport-holders to India meant that the couple were sent back to Singapore, where they had transited on their way there.

Upon arrival at Changi Airport on the morning of Jan 8, Dr El-Gamel was arrested and held for day.

In a phone interview with The New Paper from New Zealand, where he is the clinical director of cardiothoracic surgery for the Waikato District Health Board, he said that while he was under arrest, local authorities told him they had security footage catching him in the act.


But he said that he was not composed enough to ask to see the footage at the time.

He said: "I was scared and worried at the time. My passport had just been taken away."

Dr El-Gamel said he was shown a screen grab of the footage showing a man in the store in question holding a wallet. Police claimed it was him.

He told TNP: "The man in the photo is indeed me and I was in the store at the time. I did not take anything."

Dr El-Gamel said he also bought a pen from the store for about $500.

Shocked that he was accused of theft, he said: "I'm not short on money, so if I wanted to get my hands on something, I could afford it."

He said he was distracted and could not remember what had happened on that day.

But he acknowledged he did not have a strong case. He said: "I understand that my defence is weak as I only have my side of the story."

The police had said Dr El-Gamel was arrested for his involvement in the case of theft of a branded wallet at Orchard Road last February.

This article was first published on January 13, 2015.
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