The Cape Verdean Court of Appeal of Barlavento decided this Monday to give the green light to the extradition to the US of Colombian businessman Alex Saab, alleged front man of the Venezuelan dictator, Nicolás Maduro reported the detainee’s legal team.
In a statement, Saab’s defense assured that the decision represents “a direct challenge” to the order of the Economic Community of West African States (Cedeao) court of December 2.
The Cedeao Court of Justice that day ordered Cape Verde to place Saab under house arrest.
A source from the Saab defense team then informed Efe that The Court, based in Abuja and of which Cape Verde is a member, ruled in favor of ending the current incarceration regime of the Colombian businessman.
In the opinion of the detainee’s legal team, the decision of the Court of Appeal “is not surprising and only continues (a) deplorable series of decisions in which the Cape Verdean courts have refused to systematically address the arguments presented by the defense” from Saab.
They also believe that it violates the law and the Constitution of Cape Verde, so they will appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice and challenge the decision “in the strongest possible way”.
“It is our intention to point out what is a serious contempt on the part of the Cape Verde Court of Appeal to the Honorable Regional Court of Cedeao”, they add.
Saab was arrested on June 12, when the plane in which he was traveling stopped to refuel at the Amilcar Cabral International Airport on the Cape Verdean island of Sal, following a request from the United States through Interpol for alleged money laundering.
Following the Court of Appeal’s action, Saab’s lead local lawyer, José Manuel Pinto Monteiro, said that “a significant number of the arguments” raised by the defense “have been accepted today by a UK Court in its judgment of refuse to extradite Julian Assange to the United States ”.
“However, those same arguments have fallen on deaf ears in Barlavento. Furthermore, the blind refusal to recognize Alex Saab’s immunity and inviolability from long-established customary international law will have long-term repercussions for Cape Verde, ”he said.
The Colombian, who turned 49 on December 21, always kept a low profile until he appeared in the press, when former Venezuelan prosecutor Luisa Ortega accused him, in 2017, of being one of Maduro’s front men.
The businessman, born in Barranquilla and of Lebanese origin, is related to several companies, including Group Grand Limited (GGL), accused of supplying food with extra costs for a food aid program of the Maduro government, known as CLAP.
A US government official indicated in July 2019 that with the CLAPs, the Colombian businessman and three of Maduro’s stepsons apparently profited from “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The United States also brought charges against Saab and its right-hand man, Álvaro Enrique Pulido, whom it accuses of laundering up to 350 million dollars (about 296 million euros) allegedly defrauded through the exchange control system in Venezuela.