The ECOWAS Court has ordered the release of Venezuelan businessman, Alex Saab who has been detained in Cape Verde since June 2020.
The court in a final judgement on Monday, March 15, 2021 determined that it was illegal and arbitrary for Cape Verde to arrest Mr. Saab, who is a close ally of Venezuela President, Nicolás Maduro.
The court also said Cape Verde must immediately stop all processes to extradite Alex Saab to the US.
Lawyer for Mr. Saab, Femi Falana maintained his position that Saab was a diplomat and that even at the time of his arrest in Cape Verde, he was on a diplomatic mission to Iran as a Special Envoy of Venezuela.
He indicated that Mr. Saab’s position guarantees him diplomatic immunity and inviolability which should protect him from any form of imprisonment or legal proceedings from Cape Verde, but the island country violated that and arrested him on the orders of the US.
“No objections have been raised to Mr Saab’s appointment by the African Union. It is not a matter for Cape Verde or any other country for that matter to raise issue with whom Venezuela as a sovereign state appoints as its ambassador. Equally, it is for Iran to determine if it recognizes Mr Saab as a Special Envoy to Iran and not any third party,” Mr. Falana argued at the last court sitting.
According to Cape Verde, Alex Saab did not have diplomatic immunity.
The country argued that the arrest was effected legally on the back of an INTERPOL Red Notice.
Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante, the presiding judge in the matter in his final judgement said although Alex Saab was not covered by diplomatic immunity at the time of his arrest, Cape Verde’s action was not done lawfully since the Red Notice it claimed formed the basis of the arrest was only issued a day after the arrest.
The court found that Alex Saab was arrested on the 12th of June by the Cape Verdean, but the supposed Red Alert was issued on 13th June.
Meanwhile, the court has slapped a US$ 200,000 fine on Cape Verde to be paid to Alex Saab as compensation.