Sydney : Jayant Patel, the India-born surgeon dubbed 'Doctor Death' in Australia and wanted for a series of botched surgeries in a Queensland hospital, can thwart extradition from the US for years if he mounts a legal battle in US courts.
In this case, Patel could delay his extradition from his US home in Portland, Oregon, where he currently lives, to Australia by three years or even more, media reports said.
Patel, 57, faces charges relating to the deaths of 17 patients during his stint as director of surgery at the Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland between 2003 and 2005.
After the scandal surfaced, he fled to the US from where he had originally come.
"An individual can waive extradition and it could be very short or they can litigate it and appeal it and it can take years," the Courier-Mail quoted US assistant attorney Barry Sheldahl, who is likely to handle Patel's case, as saying.
"It can be very quick and it can be very long, depending on the case."
However, the newspaper quoted US government sources as saying Australian authorities might be attempting to negotiate a self-surrender deal with Patel.
In case he agrees, extradition procedures can be waived and he could be in Australia within weeks, the report said.
Australia and the US have an extradition treaty in place. But Sheldahl said he was unaware whether the Australian authorities had filed the necessary paperwork for extradition with US authorities as yet.
"They have to file the paperwork with our Department of State," he said. "That would be the first step in the process."
A US justice department spokesperson refused to comment on the issue.