Alleged Vic hospital attacker ‘unstable’

A man charged with the attempted murder of a neurosurgeon at a Melbourne hospital is in an unstable mental state, a court has heard.

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Kareem Al-Salami, 48, is accused of repeatedly stabbing the doctor in the foyer of the Western Hospital in Footscray when he arrived for work on Tuesday.

The victim, 43-year-old Michael Wong, is in a serious condition but his injuries are not considered to be life-threatening.

Al-Salami, of North Sunshine, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday afternoon charged with attempted murder and two counts each of intentionally causing serious injury and recklessly causing serious injury.

“I have concerns about his mental state … concerns about what he might do to himself,” his lawyer Rainer Martini told Magistrate Duncan Reynolds.

Mr Martini said Al-Salami was using several medications and a nurse would need to visit him in custody.

He said his client spoke little English and while no Arabic interpreter was available, he said he was satisfied he was aware of the severity of the charges.

The court also heard police feared Al-Salami was unfit to be interviewed, but he was determined to go ahead with the interview.

Al-Salami will next face court for a committal mention in May.

Police have praised visitors and hospital staff who helped drag Dr Wong away from his attacker.

Inspector Tony Long said visitors and medical staff in the foyer acted very bravely in helping the victim.

“They have been able to drag him away and he was taken to the emergency department,” he told reporters at the scene.

Western Hospital acting CEO Russell Harrison said at this stage the alleged offender was not believed to have been a patient at the hospital.

The attack prompted the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation to call on the Victorian government to tighten security in the state’s public hospitals.

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