|Michael Jackson's death triggered intense debate over his health [Reuters]
A judge in the United States has ordered Michael Jackson's personal doctor to stand trial on involuntary manslaughter charges for allegedly killing the pop star with an overdose of powerful sedatives.
Conrad Murray, who claims he was just treating the pop icon for insomnia when he died in June 2009, also had his license to practise medicine in California suspended.
Prosecutors said Murray failed to provide proper care by giving Jackson a lethal concoction of powerful anaesthetic propofol and other sedatives.
The ruling on Tuesday came after a six-day preliminary hearing during which two doctors testified that Murray, a cardiologist from Houston, had acted outside the standards of medical ethics.
Murray, 57, could face up to four years in prison if convicted.
Involuntary manslaughter is defined as an unintentional killing without malice and is a lesser charge than murder.
Los Angeles superior court judge Michael Pastor said he suspended Murray's licence in the interest of public safety and ordered him to notify every district in which he practices of the decision within 24 hours. Murray has clinics in Houston and Las Vegas.
Jackson had been receiving propofol intravenously six nights a week for the two months before his death, according to Murray.
The pop star's death shocked the entertainment world and triggered intense debate over his health in the run-up to the London concerts, known as the "This is It" tour.
Prosecutors said the defence team will argue that Jackson effectively killed himself by administering an extra dose of propofol while Murray was out of the room, although the defence have not commented on this.
They specifically allege that Murray "abandoned his patient" after administering the propofol very late at night to help Jackson sleep, and then tried to cover it up after the singer's death.
Earlier on Tuesday a forensic expert testified that Jackson's death was homicide, saying the singer was in generally good health when he died on June 25, 2009 at his Los Angeles mansion.
Christopher Rogers, the head of forensic medicine for the Los Angeles County coroner's office, said the star died of acute intoxication with propofol, which is usually used as an anaesthetic in hospital settings.
He said he would describe Jackson's death as homicide even if, as claimed by Murray, the singer had himself administered an extra dose of propofol while the doctor was out of the room.
"Based on the quality of the medical care, I would still call this a homicide, even if the doctor did not provide the propofol to Mr Jackson," he said, in the second week of the pre-trial hearings.
"The care was substandard," Rogers added. "There were several actions that should have been taken."
On Friday investigator Elissa Fleak said she found 12 vials of propofol in Jackson's house after he died, while a pharmacist testified on Monday that he supplied 255 vials of the drug to Murray in the two months before his death.