Doc not satisfied with jail term given to attackers

IANS
Nov 18, 2009 at 02:41pm IST

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Melbourne: India-born doctor and former head of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Mukesh Haikerwal on Wednesday said he takes "no comfort" from jail terms for his attackers who inflicted such injuries that he lost a piece of his brain and had to relearn how to walk and talk.

The much respected doctor was attacked in a park at Williamstown by the group that went on a one-hour rampage, attacking four other people in a five-km radius on the night of September 27, 2008.

Haikerwal required emergency surgery and was placed in an induced coma for 24 hours. He remained in hospital for two months.

INDIAN DOC ATTACKED: Mukesh Haikerwal lost a piece of his brain after the attack.

His attackers on Wednesday received long jail sentences but Haikerwal said he did not feel anything for the men.

"I take no comfort that (the men) have been sentenced to jail terms," The Age quoted him as saying.

"The community has to be protected, feel safe and secure to go about their daily lives in safety and security, not fearing for their lives, their friends' lives or their neighbours'.

"Violence is something we cannot tolerate in our community. I think (this sentence) shows police have investigated and police work is seen to have some value."

A champion of public health, Haikerwal is a member of the Australian government's National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission and chair of the World Medical Association Finance and Planning Committee.

Haikerwal was born in Lucknow, but grew up in Britain. In 1990, he moved to Australia and set up a medical general practice in Melbourne's western suburbs.

Victorian County Court Judge Joe Gullaci on Wednesday jailed Alfer Azzopardi - who delivered the most serious blow to the doctor with a baseball bat - for 18-and-a-half years with a minimum of 13-and-a-half years, The Age reported.

Michael Baltatzis, 20 was jailed for 16-and-a-half years and must serve 10-and-a-half years before being eligible for parole. Sean Gabriel, 20, was jailed for nine years and nine months with a minimum of six years.

The judge described the attacks as cowardly and despicable.

"Each of the victims was selected at random, but each had a common feature, that is they were vulnerable and alone and in parks or (other) public places," he was quoted as saying.

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