The Lawyers for Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, have described as inaccurate assertions by the Cape Verde President, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, that it is has not erred in arresting their client.
In a statement issued by the Defense team, they emphasized that the Cape Verde government has refused to acknowledge Mr. Saab’s diplomatic immunity after he was arrested on June 12, 2020.
“We welcome President Fonseca’s comments after 9 months of silence. However, we would like to state that the President is not accurate,” the statement said.
According to the lawyers, Mr. Saab was arrested despite irrefutable evidence demonstrating his status as a Special Envoy engaged on a humanitarian special mission.
Even though Venezuela contacted the Republic of Cape Verde on March 13, 2020 invoking Mr Saab’s immunity, the legal team maintains that the government chose to ignore its diplomatic obligations and push the matter into the courts.
Despite an ECOWAS court ruling directing Cape Verde to release Mr. Saab, the government has refused, holding him in a heavily guarded house.
“The executive which has repeatedly ignored evidence presented to it as well as the binding decisions of the Ecowas Court of Justice. On 15 March 2021 the Ecowas Court ordered the release of Alex Saab declaring the detention illegal and arbitrary as well as the termination of all and any extradition proceedings to the United States”.
Meanwhile the Cape Verde Supreme Court on 16 March 2020 said that it is left for the executive to take a decision on the special envoy status and appointment of Mr Saab as an ambassador to the African Union.
“The foregoing does not mean that it is practically and definitively impossible for the Applicant to have the envisaged status of Special Envoy recognised by the competent authorities in the later stages of the extradition process, with decisive consequences for the outcome of the process.”
On 26 March 2021 Yves Bertossa, Prosecutor of the Geneva’s Public Prosecutor’s Office announced the end of a three-year investigation into allegations of money laundering against Alex Saab.
The funds which were the subject of the investigation were alleged to have emanated from a social housing project in Venezuela, the same social housing project which is at the heart of the Miami indictment issued against Alex Saab on 25 July 2019.