Alex Saab’s defense has requested Cape Verde to reverse the approval of his extradition to the United States.
“The defense team (…) is clear that the Constitutional Court of Cape Verde committed a series of errors in its decision of September 7, 2021,” said Cape Verdean lawyer José Manuel Pinto Monteiro in a statement; specifying that the request was made last September 29.
In its decision, the Constitutional Court judged “inadmissible” the appeal filed by the defense against the alleged unconstitutionality of Alex Saab‘s arrest in an attempt to stop his extradition to the US, which is claiming him for alleged money laundering.
According to Saab’s lawyers, in its ruling the TC, Cape Verde’s highest judicial instance, omitted to rule on some important issues that the defense had raised in its appeal.
For example, the legal team argues that, although the court declared that Saab, as the subject of the US extradition request, could not present evidence on the charges brought by that country. The Constitutional Court of Cape Verde, omitted to rule on Alex Saab’s right to present evidence on other aspects of the extradition; such as his “diplomatic immunity” or the “political motivation” in his case.
Also, the defense believes that the Constitutional Court should answer another question; therefore, it considers unconstitutional the previous decision of the Supreme Court of the African country not to accept as binding the ruling against the extradition of the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which ordered in December 2020 his “immediate release”.
“Based on these and other fundamental flaws, (…) Álex Saab is confident that the TC will grant the petition for annulment and issue a new judgment granting, at least partially, the appeal of unconstitutionality and returning the case to the judicial courts,” Pinto said.
Unsuccessful legal attempts
The vice-president of the ECOWAS court (a bloc of countries to which Cape Verde belongs), Gberi-Be Ouattara, regretted on the 5th, at the Annual Conference of the African Lawyers Association; that Cape Verde has not implemented the regional court’s ruling.
“When a State does not implement the court’s decisions, this constitutes a breach of its obligations, so other States can adopt sanctions against this State,” said Ouattara.
Also the UN Human Rights Committee ordered last June to stop the extradition of Ambassador Alex Saab; moreover, his rights will be guaranteed.
Recalling that Alex Saab, was arrested on June 12, 2020 when his plane stopped for refueling at the Amilcar Cabral International Airport of the Cape Verdean island of Sal; thus responding to a request from the US government, issued through Interpol; but the defense alleges that this alert was issued after the arrest.
With its verdict on September 7, the Constitutional Court agreed with two lower courts, the Court of Appeals of Barlavento and the Supreme Court, and with the Cape Verdean government itself, which had already authorized Saab’s surrender.
Cape Verde has not yet complied with an order of the Court of Barlavento authorizing the transfer of the businessman from the island of Sal, where he is detained, to the capital of the country, Praia, to receive specialized medical attention due to the deterioration of his health.
In addition, the defense denounced this Thursday that the Cape Verdean authorities refuse to issue visas to Saab’s wife and two daughters, so that they can visit him, in spite of the fact that it is allowed by the court.