The detained Venezuelan government ‘diplomat’, Alex Saab, has appealed a Cabo Verdean court ruling assenting to the United States of America extradition request.
Having lost at a lower court, an appeal to stop Mr Saab’s extradition to the U.S. was again rejected by the Barlavento Court of Appeal last week, intensifying the legal and diplomatic debate.
Following his arrest by the Cabo Verde security operatives at Interpol’s requests in late June 2020, the Venezuelan government identified the businessman as its diplomat on ‘humanitarian mission’ to Iran, an argument the tiny island court has dismissed.
“At the time of his hearing and validation of his extradition, he did not present any diplomatic passport or proof of statute in Special Envoy sent by the Venezuela government, as required; by the TRB,” a part of the court ruling seen by PREMIUM TIMES, read.
Meanwhile, there was a ruling from ECOWAS Court before the above judgement, mandating Cape Verde, as one of its member states, to halt all extradition proceedings against the Venezuelan government’s ‘official’ until its main hearing, scheduled for February 4, 2021.
The court also ruled that the detained ‘diplomat’ be placed on house arrest by the country’s authority and allowed to receive medical care, a ruling both Mr Saab’s lawyers and doctor told this newspaper has not been adhered to.
However, in an appeal filed before the Cape Verde Supreme Court of Justice, and obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday night, Mr Saab’s legal team contested the judgement on the ground that the U.S. extradition process is alien to the country’s legal system and other international laws.
“About the specialty rule, according to articles 54.3 and 22.214.171.124.5; The extradition process does not meet or respect the requirements of international human rights instruments ratified or contained in the Cape Verde system (article 6.1.a) of the LCJ); There are, well-founded reasons to assume that cooperation is requested in order to persecute or punish the Applicant because of his political or ideological beliefs or his belonging to a specific social group (Article 6.1b) of the LCJ),” a part of the 118 pages document read.
A source within the current Cape Verdean government told PREMIUM TIMES the country does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S. and hinted on the pressure the case is generating within the country’s party.
Also leveraging on Mr Saab’s recent appointment to the African Union and the ECOWAS court ruling, his legal counsel argued that the decision contained in “[ECW/ CCJ/ APP/ 43/20] binds the State of Cape Verde to the Revised ECOWAS Treaty and the ECOWAS COURT protocols, consequently, it also binds the Tribunal da Relação de Barlavento; (Opinion 01 and 02)”.
“The judgment under appeal, in its unsustainable lightness, fails to mention which articles of the Constitution were invoked…
“Even not knowing what articles are at stake and what constitutional rules and principles were alleged by the appellant, the judgment under appeal comes to the brilliant conclusion that there is no reason to defend the alleged unconstitutionality without indicating the norms and principles of the constitution and obviously without any elaboration in the judgment under appeal on them,” they further noted in the submitted argument to the apex court.
No date has been fixed for the case yet.
Foreign minister resigns
While the legal and diplomatic debate on Mr Saab’s detention continue to generate questions in Cape Verde, the country’s Foreign Minister, Luís Tavares, has resigned his position after learning that country’s honorary consul in the United States, Caesar DePaço, is a financial supporter of the ultra right Chega party in Portugal with a base in Florida.
Sources allege the former minister was working closely with U.S. President Donald Trump’s supporters from Florida and Mr Saab was allegedly part of the deal.
PREMIUM TIMES contacted the former foreign minister through email for comments, but he has not responded yet.
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