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Extradition objection shot down

Cape Town - A Cape Town businessman known as the “Steroid King” hit a snag in his fight against extradition to the US to face drug charges, following a recent Western Cape High Court ruling.

The extradition process– at its second stage of an inquiry before a magistrate – will resume in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

Brian Wainstein, who changed his surname to Benjamin in 2011, was arrested in January last year after the US requested his extradition to stand trial there for the illegal importation and marketing of drugs, including anabolic steroids.The extradition documents say Wainstein also used other names.

A court inquiry into whether he should be extradited came to a halt when Wainstein challenged the magistrate’s admission of certain documents into evidence. They included a certificate and supporting affidavit from an Assistant US Attorney Brent Hannafan, a superseding indictment, a Tennessee arrest warrant, copies of relevant statutes and an affidavit deposed by Alex Davis.

Wainstein alleged in his high court application that the documents were not properly authenticated and that the Hannafan certificate was not properly proven by evidence.

In a judgment handed down earlier this month, Acting Judge Lance Burger said that authentication meant “verifying a document to be genuine” and he was satisfied with a certificate signed by Sonya Johnson, on behalf of the Secretary of State, in her capacity as an assistant authentication officer, that the documents were genuine and could be relied upon.

“As an assistant authentication officer, (she) authenticates all the documents in the red ribbon bundle. She might do so because she relies on the seal and signature… but that does not matter, since there is nothing in the Extradition Act that requires an authentication to be based on any particular information,” he said.

He rejected the argument that the magistrate had committed gross irregularities when admitting the documents into evidence, saying, “There is no point setting aside her decision to simply substitute our own decision to admit the documents”. Judge Pat Gamble agreed.

The application was dismissed with costs.

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