Kidneys-for-sale trial postponed

2011-02-23 17:16

The final six accused in the Netcare kidneys-for-sale trial appeared briefly in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court today, with the prosecuting asking magistrate Kim de Frietas to adjourn the case until May 27.

The state requested the adjournment to allow for negotiations with the lawyers for the six – four doctors and two kidney transplant coordinators – to continue. The state also wanted time for some further investigation, a sign that negotiations may have broken down and that the matter may now go to trial.

This is the latest in a series of brief appearances and remands since last year, when Netcare bosses and several co-accused pleaded guilty and paid fines as part of a plea bargain agreement with the prosecution.

The six are accused of conducting illegal kidney transplants on rich Israeli citizens using organs illegally harvested from poor Brazilians, Bulgarians and Israelis.In November, their co-accused, nephrologist Jeff Kallmeyer, made a plea agreement with the prosecution and paid a fine of R150 000.

Kallmeyer was the fourth accused to plead guilty and struck a deal with the prosecution: Netcare itself paid a R4 million fine and assets worth R3.8 million were forfeited, while the interpreter who worked for the illegal network, Samuel Ziegler, struck a deal in October.

At this stage, only the doctors involved in the 109 illegal transplants – Arif Haffejee, Mahadev Naidoo, John Robbs and Neil Christopher – and Netcare transplant coordinators Melanie Azor and Lindy Dickson are still on trial.

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