Cape Verde’s grounds for neglecting ECOWAS court’s ruling on the release of the detained Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, were the highlights of the case when it came up for hearing on Friday.
Mr Saab’s status as a diplomat has been brought to question after his arrest in June 2020 at the request of the United States of America for alleged financial crimes.
While the legality of his detention in Cape Verde continued to generate debates, over 200,000 protesters took to the streets of Venezuela to demand his release on Monday.
Until recently, Mr Saab was held in the country’s prison against the ECOWAS court order that the diplomat be placed on house arrest until its main hearing on February 5, after three consecutive adjournments.
The diplomat was reluctantly released and placed under house arrest in late January.
However, the Cape Verdean representative, Henrique Borges, at the Friday hearing, insisted that the court lacks jurisdiction to decide the case as it has “not signed and, consequently, not bound by the Additional Protocols of ECOWAS Court” and dismissed Mr Saab’s diplomatic status.
Meanwhile, documents available to PREMIUM TIMES confirmed that Mr Saab’s was on a special mission to Iran when his private jet had a stopover to refuel at the island’s airport in Sal.
In an interview with this reporter after the hearing, the Venezuelan diplomat’s legal team, led by Femi Falana, faulted Mr Borges arguments by using the Revised Treaty (Article 15) and Additional Protocols 2005.
“Cape Verde cannot claim that Alex Saab is not a diplomat as he is a Special Envoy to Iran and recognised in that role by Iran.
“Furthermore, the African Union has accepted his appointment and therefore his immunity and inviolability are absolute and cannot be challenged by Cape Verde.
“Under the provisions of the Additional Protocol 2005, if nine States Members sign it, it becomes binding for all the States/ Members of ECOWAS. In this case, 14 out of 15 member states signed with the only one not signing was Cape Verde and that was only because its Prime Minister at the time had to return to Cape Verde to deal with an emergency,” Mr Falana said in another statement issued in respect to the hearing.
Ruling on the case has again been adjourned to March 11.
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