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Saturday 22 September 2018
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Venezuelan challenges extradition

A VENEZUELAN man who is wanted in the United States on drug-trafficking charges has been given a second chance to challenge his extradition.

Eduardo Gregorio Azocar was committed to custody to await extradition to the US by acting Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle on March 1.

Sixteen days later, Azocar’s attorneys Keith Scotland and Asha Watkins-Montserin filed a writ of habeas corpus in the High Court challenging the magistrate’s order.

On Tuesday it was dismissed by High Court judge Avason Quinlan-Williams for delay, as it was filed one day outside the stipulated 15 days under the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act.

An emergency application was filed by Azocar’s lawyers and heard by Justice of Appeal Andre des Vignes yesterday. Azocar withdrew the emergency application but it was suggested that he could file a new writ.

The state also agreed not to extradite him before next Thursday.

Azocar is wanted for attempting to distribute a quantity of a mixture of substances containing a detectable amount of cocaine in 2015.

The acting chief magistrate issued a provisional warrant on June 16, 2016, and he was arrested by police the next day.

According to the evidence, it was alleged that Azocar sold to an undercover agent a quantity of cocaine at US$22,500 and offered to import a quantity of the drugs at US$4,500 a kilogramme.

It was further alleged that he indicated he would invest in a quantity of cocaine to be sold in Philadelphia at US$35,000 per kilogram.

In challenging his extradition, Azocar’s attorneys argued there was no evidence of an alleged plan involving him to import cocaine into the US nor evidence that drugs were actually imported into that country.

They further contended that according to the case of the US, as presented at the extradition proceedings, the offences alleged took place in Trinidad and that the proper forum for Azocar to be tried was locally and not in the US. The case for the US, advanced by Pamela Elder, SC, Ravi Rajcoomar, Netram Kowlessar, Graeme McClean and Varuna Chattoo, was that the evidence in the record of case was clear.

They dismissed claims of entrapment and a lack of evidence as advanced by Azocar’s lawyers.

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