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Weinberger OK to be questioned by police
Merrillville doctor Mark Weinberger, who was apprehended in Italy, faces fraud and malpractice charges.

TURIN, Italy | Doctors in Italy gave permission Monday for police to question a fugitive Merrillville doctor who was found in a tent at the snowy foot of Mont Blanc last week, a hospital spokesman said.

Mark Weinberger's conditions have improved since he stabbed himself in the neck after being apprehended Dec. 15 in Val Ferret, near Italy's northern border with France, Molinette hospital spokesman Pierpaolo Berra told The Associated Press.

Weinberger, 46, disappeared from his surgery clinic more than five years ago amid mounting charges of fraud and malpractice.

His self-inflicted injuries weren't life-threatening and hospital doctors examined Weinberger on Monday afternoon. Berra said the doctors gave permission for police to question him, a session that could come as early as Tuesday.

"Now it's up to the police whether to confirm or not the interrogation," Berra said. Earlier, there had been some question about whether it would need to be postponed given the injuries.

Weinberger was indicted by a federal grand jury in Hammond in 2006 on 22 counts of fraud for allegedly scheming to overbill insurance companies for procedures that were either not needed or sometimes never performed.

In addition, Weinberger is facing about 300 civil claims filed by patients against him, his one-time Merrillville attorney James Hough has said.

Weinberger was discovered after a mountain guide tipped off authorities that he was in Val Ferret, living in a tent with high-tech mountain survival gear. Police said he stabbed himself in the neck with a knife he had hidden as he was taken into custody.

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Berra said Weinberger hadn't managed to cut his jugular vein. As a result, no surgery was necessary. However, he suffered injuries to the muscles that control his tongue.

It was unclear how long Weinberger has been in Italy.

Carabinieri Maj. Cesare Lenzi in Aosta, near where Weinberger was discovered, said police believe he had rented an apartment in the ski resort town of Courmayeur this year.

"But we don't know when he entered Italy, or if he had been somewhere else before here," he said.

Lenzi said a court-appointed lawyer had been appointed, although it wasn't clear if Weinberger had obtained another attorney.

Hough declined to comment Monday about Weinberger's case.

The mystery surrounding Weinberger, who was known as The Nose Doctor, began when he disappeared while traveling with his wife in Greece. He was the subject of an international dragnet and his case was featured on "America's Most Wanted" as recently as August.

U.S. prosecutors are working to request Weinberger's extradition from Italy, a process that could take a year or more unless Weinberger waives extradition.

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