I have no power in Alex Saab extradition process – President Jorge Fonseca

Jorge Carlos Fonseca

The president of Cape Verde, Jorge Carlos Fonseca says he has no role in the extradition process of Venezuelan businessman, Alex Saab and so cannot in any way influence it.

He said the process entirely lies within the domain of the judiciary and he will not attempt to get involved.

The president in an interaction with journalists on Monday said his views on the matter will be of no value because the executive has no power to influence the process.

“At this moment the process is at the TC [constitutional court], which is an autonomous constitutional jurisdiction. Therefore, people must understand, and I believe that everyone understands, that is, there is no one connected to the process who does not know that neither the President of the Republic, nor the Prime Minister, nor the Minister of Justice cannot intervene or suspend anything in a process that is before the courts. I cannot go on any longer. As President of the Republic, let’s suppose, even if I thought there were problems of justice, injustice, legality or illegality, I have no means of intervening,” he said.

The president’s comment comes after acknowledging a letter from the United Nations Human Rights Committee directing Cape Verde to suspend the extradition of Alex Saab pending the committee’s final determination on a submission brought to it to look into Alex Saab case.

President Fonseca told pressmen that he has been updated on the entire case by the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) and is aware of the fact that there are multiple legs to the case including appeals on the matter.

“In a system like ours, only a judge can arrest or release because only a judge has the jurisdictional power to remove or restore freedom. There may be countries where this is possible. But not in Cape Verde,” he said.

The defence team of Alex Saab believes that President Fonseca, as the head of the executive is bound by the directives of the United Nations Human Rights Committee just as the legislature and judiciary hence his action and voice on the issue is significant to guarantee the rights of the diplomat cum businessman.

But Fonseca told the journalists in Praia that he has no interest in the Alex Saab case and his opinion therefore does not count but the Constitutional Court’s.

“I have no interest in that. I may have an opinion, but it’s not worth anything. The opinion that counts is the opinion of the Constitutional Court… But the decision that matters here is the decision of the courts. Because, whatever the TC decides, is decided, and is complied with,” he stated.

It remains unclear how the court will handle the issue and whether Cape Verde will immediately comply with the directive of the UN Human Rights committee.

Alex Saab, a businessman, and diplomat of Venezuela was arrested in Cape Verde in June 2020 while on his way to Iran on a mission for Venezuela.

He has remained in custody in that country since then as his lawyers litigate his continuous detention and plan to extradite him to the US to face charges of corruption.

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