With the arrest of Colombian businessman, Alex Saab, the lingering feud between Venezuela and the United States of America has dragged Africa into the dangling contest.
Mr Saab, an ally to President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, was arrested in June 2020 when his private jet had a stopover at Cape Verde, a West African nation, by the country’s security operatives and Interpol.
While he remains in Cape Verde’s government detention, there have been political and legal struggles between the American and Venezuelan governments on who to take custody of the arrested businessman.
Within days of his arrest, Donald Trump-led administration had requested Mr Saab’s extradition to the U.S. for money laundering, a move the Venezuelan government faulted, claiming the businessman is its Special Envoy on a “humanitarian mission” to get food and medical supplies.
“This fact, in violation of international law and norms, clearly corresponds with the actions of aggression and siege against the Venezuelan people, undertaken by the government of the United States with the aim of abruptly affecting and interrupting efforts on behalf of the Bolivarian government, aimed at guaranteeing the right to food, health and other basic rights of the Venezuelan people,” the government said in a statement on June 13.
Ignoring Mr Saab’s immunity in his capacity and status as a diplomat, Cape Verde authorities bowed to the U.S.extradition request without a treaty of extradition between the duo.
It is within the above context and perceived violations of Mr Saab’s human rights that he lodged complaints against the Cape Verdean authorities.
Baltasar Garzón, a former Spanish judge and one of the attorneys on the case, in his statement to PREMIUM TIMES last weekend, alleged both Interpol and Cape Verde of doing the bidding of the U.S. rather than following due processes.
“Cape Verde’s willful violation of its own laws, and customary international law, will also tarnish the ECOWAS region’s commitment to upholding the highest standards of human rights and legal protections.
“Interpol has serious questions to answer about its repeated willingness to bend to political pressure from big countries like the United States. Interpol has a serious reputation problem and this is just making it worse. It’s impossible to trust what should be an independent international cooperation framework when it can be abused and twisted so easily,” he said.
However, Mr Saab’s alleged arbitrary detention, in violation of the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic relations, has been slated for November 30 before ECOWAS Court in Abuja.
An international legal source working with the Venezuelan detained frontman, on Monday, told this reporter that a Nigerian human right lawyer, Femi Falana, will be leading the case before ECOWAS court next Monday.
Saab: a drop in U.S, Venezuela long-drawn feud
The feud between the U.S and Mr Maduro-led socialist government became more pronounced in the race to his re-election bid, an attempt Washington strongly frowned at, drumming its support for Juan Guaido, an opposition leader.
Winning the presidential seat again against popular opinion, the oil-rich country was further thrown into political chaos, arguably encouraged by the U.S economic sanctions.
It is in the midst of this harsh period that Mr Saab became a key facilitator between Mr Maduro-led government and other countries that enable it to survive despite the sanctions, an undertaking many argued might have placed him on the U.S. radar.
Before his eventual arrest in Cape Verde, Mr Saab has been fingered in money laundering involving hundreds of millions of dollars both in the U.S and his first nationality, Colombia.
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