Cape Verde has been urged to immediately release Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab in compliance with the ruling of the ECOWAS Court on Monday, March 15, 2021.
Femi Falana, the lead lawyer for Mr. Saab in a letter addressed to the President of the Cape Verde, Jorge Carlos de Almeida Fonseca and the Prime Minister, Jose Ulisses de Pina Correia e Silva, indicated that Cape Verde has a legal and moral duty to respect the court’s decision and act accordingly.
After months of litigation, the ECOWAS Court on Monday declared as illegal and arbitrary, Cape Verde’s arrest and detention of Alex Saab.
It consequently ordered the island country to release him, stop all processes to extradite him to the US and also compensate him with $200,000.
The ruling comes as a big blow to Cape Verde which had strongly argued that there was nothing wrong with Saab’s arrest and that it was done based on an INTERPOL Red Notice, a claim the court dismissed as false.
Femi Falana in drawing the attention of the Cape Verde government to the judgement said, “having fully participated in the Ecowas Court’s process (as evidenced by the attendance and participation of your counsel Dr Henrique Borges on both 5 February and 15 March) and therefore submitted to the jurisdiction of the Ecowas Court, we would expect your immediate compliance with the Honourable Court’s decision.”
He also reminded the government of the $200,000 compensation awarded to Mr. Saab, further urging the country to expedite action on the court ruling to ensure that Mr. Saab immediately resumes his diplomatic duties.
“In view of the fact that the judgment of the Court is binding and immediately enforceable we are compelled to respectfully request Your Excellencies to ensure that the government of the Republic of Cabo Verde complies with the judgment as well as provides safe passage for Mr. Saab to enable him to assume his diplomatic duties as an Alternate Permanent Representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the African Union,” he added.
Cape Verde, Venezuela and the United States of America have been involved in a diplomatic row over the past nine months following the arrest of Mr. Saab in June 2020.
The businessman was arrested in Cape Verde on his way to Iran on a diplomatic mission for Venezuela.
The arrest was carried out on the request of the US which wanted him extradited to face charges of corruption.
Cape Verde approved the request but could not go on with the process due to legal actions by the defence team of Mr. Saab.
Venezuela’s position was that Saab was their diplomat and enjoys immunity from arrest and detention hence the actions of Cape Verde were illegal.
It was also of the view that the arrest was part of the US’ grand plan to severely sanction Venezuela and those linked to the Nicolás Maduro regime.
Alex Saab had been kept in a maximum security prison for months until Cape Verde acted on an earlier ECOWAS ruling to rather put him under permanent house arrest.