The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ruled on Monday against the extradition to the United States of Venezuelan ambassador Alex Saab, who has been illegally detained in Cape Verde since June 12, 2020.
Sources of his legal team informed EFE news agency that in a visit held at its headquarters in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, the ECOWAS Court, to which Cape Verde belongs, pronounced in favor of Saab’s immediate release, although it remains to be seen if the Cape Verdean authorities will abide by this decision.
The Special Envoy and Alternate Ambassador of the Government of the Bolivarian Republic to the African Union was arrested last June 12 when the plane in which he was traveling stopped for refueling at the Amilcar Cabral International Airport of the Cape Verdean island of Sal, following a U.S. request through Interpol to involve him in alleged money laundering.
ECOWAS Court ordered the release of Alex Saab
According to the same sources, the African court ordered Cape Verde, a West African island country, to pay costs amounting to some 200,000 euros.
On the other hand, the Venezuelan Embassy in Senegal, in charge of covering Cape Verde, also confirmed on its Twitter social network account that the ECOWAS Court “ordered the immediate release of Ambassador Alex Saab”.
The court “declared that the capture and detention of Ambassador Saab was illegal, arbitrary and recognizes the violation of his human rights. The decision involves the suspension of the extradition”, indicated the Venezuelan legation in Dakar.
This court then considered that the Cape Verdean Justice “acted outside its jurisdiction” when it arrested him on June 12 to respond to an extradition request formulated by the United States.
Venezuela joined the ECOWAS request
On March 5, the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela joined the request of the African Bar Association, made public last Monday, March 1 by its President, Mr. Hannibal E. Uwaifo, and called upon the Honorable Government of the Republic of Cape Verde to proceed with the immediate release of Venezuelan ambassador Alex Saab, who has been illegally detained in that country since June 12, 2020, while awaiting the outcome of his extradition hearing.
The ambassador Alex Saab stated at the beginning of March that “my illegal detention is totally politically motivated and it is pathetic that the Government of Cape Verde has bent the knee before (…) the US”.
The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela expressed its full conviction that the judicial authorities of Cape Verde will realize the error committed with this arrest.