Sunday, July 23, 2006

"Dr Ozone" denies wrongdoing

Jul 13, 2006
An Austrian man accused of luring terminally ill foreigners to Thailand with promises of a miracle cancer cure says he's done nothing wrong, and the husband of a dead Australian patient agrees.
Hellfried Sartori spoke to AAP through jail cell bars at a police station in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, where he has been held since his arrest on Sunday.
"I have not committed any crime.

All I did was to try to help people after they approached me," he said as police investigations into his therapies were underway in Thailand, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
"And I gave free advice to many people, including some in Australia, to try to assist them back to a healthy life."

Sartori, 67, was stripped of his medical licence in several states in the United States, where Thai police say he has served jail time.
Thai police said Sartori was expected to face court on Saturday on charges of fraud and impersonating a doctor, offences that carry five years imprisonment.

Sartori insisted he was still a registered physician in some parts of the world. However in Thailand he had acted only as a "technician" while nurses injected patients with chemicals.
In Darwin today the widower of Australian ovarian cancer patient Kathleen Preston, who died in Thailand two years ago after being treated by Sartori, said there was nothing for police or the NT Coroner to investigate.

"There's nothing wrong," said Keith Preston, who instead accused the Australian medical system of failing his wife.
As well as receiving the "natural" treatment in Thailand, Preston also travelled to Singapore and Mexico for help.
"You won't get anything done in Australia," Preston said."They tell you to go home and die. They weren't doing anything.
Meanwhile, Western Australian police named Sartori and Perth physician Dr Alexandra Boyd as persons of interest over the deaths of six terminally ill people who were given cesium chloride therapy in Perth in May 2005.

Detective Sergeant Terry Rackich said the cancer patients had paid "tens of thousands" of dollars for treatment.

The six Australians as well as one New Yorker were allegedly treated at Boyd's home because Sartori could not get a visa. Within two days four were dead and two died within a month.
Sergeant Rackich said: "We're looking at any aspect of any criminality that has occurred but at this particular point in time it is just going to be referred to the coroner."
He said Boyd had declined to be interviewed by police.

In a statement tonight, Boyd said neither she nor her clinic had administered "any cancer treatment to these Perth-based patients of Mr Sartori" but had ordered and reviewed blood tests for some of them.

Inside Chiang Mai's jail, Sartori lashed out at the Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital where Preston died soon after undergoing his controversial "ozone treatment".
Sartori said Preston flew to Thailand with her husband to be diagnosed and was given what Sartori said were "special injections".

"That poor woman bled to death because of the incompetence of the staff at that hospital," Sartori said.

"I intend to sue them for $US20 million ($A27 million) as soon as I get out of here."

A Thai post-mortem examination found excessive potassium in her blood.
Sartori said he had not been interviewed by Australian Federal Police.

Thai police said they were investigating the deaths of other patients under Sartori's care.
Detectives said Sartori, who studied medicine in his native Austria, was convicted in the US of illegally administering his so-called "ozone treatments", and was jailed in New York State in May 1992 and Washington DC in July 1998.

Sartori admitted today that he had charged his "patients" $A50,000 for his treatments, which were carried out in hotel rooms in and around Chiang Mai.

"How can they accuse me of impersonating a medical practitioner?" he said.
"I was licensed by the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom in 1992 - and I still hold that valid licence today."
Sartori also claims his 40-year-old medical qualifications from Graz University in Austria remain valid under European Union law.

He said he had lived in Thailand for 10 years "on and off" and that he had visited Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin "a number of times" - although he refused to be specific about the dates and purpose of these trips.

"At all times during my work with people who came to see me here, their own relations were present at every stage of the treatment," Sartori said.

One of Sartori's patients, New Zealander Melissa Judith Taylor, lost consciousness during treatment in Chiang Mai last month. She has since returned home.

Source: AAP

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