By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The constitutional court of Cape Verde has dismissed the appeal of the Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab against his extradition request by the United States in what his lawyers say is a “long, indigestible and legally disputable” ruling notified on September 7, 2021.
“This ruling is a major moment in the constitutional history of this tiny African state because it symbolizes the sacrificial death of the rule of law so dearly acquired by Cape Verdeans, in the service of purely political interests according to the agenda dictated by Washington. This is constitutional suicide,” Femi Falana, a Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist and also the lawyer for Mr Saab said in a communiqué.
“…In the absence of substantive arguments that could convince the reader otherwise, the judgment is presented in a confused and hermetic form and language. This result is legally deplorable.”
Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab was arrested by the Cape Verdean authorities back in June 2020 while on a special humanitarian mission from Iran. He was arrested at the Amilcar Cabral International Airport on the Island of Sal after a stopover.
According to reports, Mr Saab’s arrest was hinged on an international arrest warrant purportedly issued by Interpool at the request of the United States. The Venezuelan authorities have continued to call for his release, adding that he had diplomatic immunity at the time he was arrested.
The US believes getting Mr Saab in front of the US court will hasten the illegal and politically motivated regime change it has wanted for over a decade in Venezuela. This cajoling, coercing and seducing of the Small nation of Cape Verde to extraditing Alex Saab has also seen the Venezuelan diplomat added to the UK sanctions list.
To Mr Saab’s lawyers: “The consequence of this ruling is to validate the purely arbitrary arrest of a foreign diplomat, deprived of all rights and guarantees, at the hands of Cape Verdean police officers. The details of the ruling will leave any reasonable jurist speechless as he or she, throughout this decision, human rights judicial guarantees, the principles f diplomatic immunity and good faith in international law decongested and annihilated by those who serve a political purpose.”
“It is rarely that a State violates its international obligations in such a blunt manner,” says Dr Rutsel Marthan, former Director of legal affairs of Interpol and lawyer on the defense team.
In a judgment by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court, the Cape Verdean authorities were called to immediately released Mr Saab as they noted that his arrest and detention was illegal. The Court also called on the authorities to pay Mr Saab $200,000 for his unlawful detention.
In response to the ECOWAS Court decision, Cape Verdean authorities had made it categorically clear that the Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit and that Mr Saab’s diplomatic immunity had expired at the time of his arrest.
“In ruling against Alex Saab, the Constitutional Court also ruled against the Constitution of Cape Verde, against the revised Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States, and International Law. Thus, the ruling has completely alienated Cape Verde from the community of civilized nations,” the lawyers added.
Alex Saab, a Colombian by birth, is a businessman who provided services to the then Chavez administration and recently to the Maduro government, at a time when Venezuela was facing severe sanctions imposed by the United States. With the recent decision from the Cape Verdean Court, Alex Saab’s extradition to the US is almost certain.
Full letter from Femi Falana below