Lawyers ask US, Cape Verde to release detained Venezuelan envoy, Alex Saab

Ogunsakin Mustapha
5 Min Read

Lawyers to the detained Venezuelan Alternate Representative to the African Union, Mr Alex Saab has called on the United States of America(USA), and the government of Cape Verde to stop his judicial persecution and release him immediately from detention.

Saab who is also the Special Envoy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had been in detention since his arrest on June 12, 2020 at the Island of Sai, Cape Verde, where his aircraft stopped to refuel. His arrest according to the Cape Verde authorities is in fulfilment of a treaty between US, and Cape Verde that bothers on money laundering matters.

However, the Geneva Public Prosecutor recently ended the money laundering investigations against Saab which started in 2018. The prosecutor claimed that there was no basis to continue the investigation. The office also promise to compensate him for his legal costs.

His lawyers, Femi Falana SAN(Nigeria), and Jose Manuel Pinto Monteiro(Cape Verde) call for his immediate release, particularly with the end of the money laundering investigations in Geneva. The lawyers maintained that the American request for his “extradition is politically motivated and based on unsubstantiated allegations founded on testimony from discredited informants”.

A press release signed by the duo says Saab must be released immediately.

It reads:

“H.E. Alex Saab, who is both the Alternate Permanent Representative to the African Union and a Special Envoy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was arrested on June 12, 2020 by Cape Verde at the request of the United States on allegations of money laundering. At the time of his arrest, he was undertaking a humanitarian Special Mission to procure urgently required medicines and medical equipment when he made a refuelling stop on the Cape Verdean Island of Sal;

After his initial arrest, which took place in direct contravention of long -established international law governing the movement of diplomats and political agents, H.E. Alex Saab was held in prison conditions which even the US State Department has described as “…life threatening.” Following an order of the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) the envoy  was moved to house arrest at the end of January of this year. In a further binding ruling handed down on 15 March 2021, the ECOWAS Court of Justice declared that H.E. Alex Saab’s arrest by Cape Verde was illegal, that he be released immediately along with the termination of the extradition process to the United States. Thus far, Cape Verde has refused to comply with the order of the regional court.;

The United States has applied economic and political sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela which, according to a February 2021 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur Ms Alena Douhan are “…on a scale unprecedented in history”. The use by the United States of politically motivated extraterritorial judicial overreach as an instrument of executing a policy of regime change flies in direct challenge to Article 2(1) of the United Nations Charter, which calls for the non-interference in the internal affairs of another state;

In early 2018, the Geneva Public Prosecutor began an investigation into alleged money laundering by H.E. Alex Saab. The investigation has now been terminated after three years with the Geneva Public Prosecutor concluding that “…there is no additional element to continue the investigation on the count of Money Laundering…”. Furthermore, it was agreed that H.E. Alex Saab’s legal costs in relation to the investigation “would be compensated”;

The Defence Team has asserted for many months that the extradition request made by the United States on 29 June 2020 to the Republic of Cape Verde is politically motivated and based on unsubstantiated allegations founded on testimony from discredited informants. The Geneva Public Prosecutor’s findings are an important counterweight to the politically motivated accusations of the United States;

On the basis of the findings of the Geneva Public Prosecutor and the ECOWAS Court of Justice, two highly reputable independent authorities, the Defence Team calls upon the United States to end its politically motivated judicial persecution of H.E. Alex Saab and for the Republic of Cape Verde to release him in accordance with the binding, valid and subsisting judgment of the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States”.  

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