The President of Cape Verde, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, defended the integrity of the Constitutional Court of his country after it ruled in favor of the constitutionality of the extradition to the United States of the Colombian businessman Alex Saab, front man of the dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.
“We are a very credible and respected democratic rule of law everywhere, given that one of its pillars is precisely our judicial system, “Fonseca said in statements made to the Cape Verdean state media at the presidential palace in Praia, the capital of this West African island country.
“This system worked in the present case, there was no interference from either the Government or the President of the Republic, nor could there be. The Constitutional Court ruled with total freedom, autonomy and complete independence”, Stressed the head of state.
“The process was carried out in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of Cape Verde. I always said that the State would have to comply with the decisions of the legal bodies that exercise and apply the law in Cape Verde”Added Fonseca.
The president made these statements after Saab himself, detained in Cape Verde since June 2020 at the request of the United States, branded “incoherent”The ruling of the Constitutional Court.
Alex Saab’s word
“It is poorly written, poorly argued, and legally incoherent“Saab stated in a letter published by its legal team.
“Using the law for political purposes (…) to be successful requires that the judges who carry it out have some inherent talent that, sadly, seems to be lacking in the many Cape Verdean judges who have sat down to judge me. in the last 15 months ”, stressed the businessman.
“Simply put, the result is legally deplorable”, The figurehead settled.
The letter was made public hours after his lawyers issued a statement criticizing the ruling of the Cape Verdean high court, which they called “constitutional suicide.”
“This ruling is an important moment in the constitutional history of this small African state, because it symbolizes the expiatory death of the rule of law so dear to Cape Verdeans, at the service of purely political interests according to an agenda dictated by Washington,” denounced lawyer Femi Falana.
In a verdict published on the 7th, the court ruled the appeal filed by Saab “inadmissible” against the alleged unconstitutionality of his arrest to stop his extradition.
The Constitutional Court thus responded to the appeal in which Saab alleged, according to the court, that during the extradition process “unconstitutional rules applied”.
The court came to agree with two lower courts, the Barlavento Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Justice, which had already authorized in 2020 and last March, respectively, the delivery of Saab to the United States.
In practice, the ruling of the Constitutional Court gives – except surprise or unforeseen – free way to extradition, also approved by the Cape Verdean government itself last year.
Unsuccessful attempts to stop extradition
Up to now, all legal attempts to stop its delivery to the US have been unsuccessful before the Cape Verdean Justice, in a process in which the defense always argued that it was “illegal” and that it was politically motivated.
The businessman was arrested on June 12, 2020 when his plane stopped to refuel at the Amilcar Cabral International Airport on the Cape Verdean island of Sal, in response to a US request through Interpol for alleged money laundering, but the defense alleges that this alert was issued after the arrest.
After his arrest, Venezuela insisted that Saab is a Venezuelan citizen and an “agent” of the Government, who is in transit in Cape Verde, for which his lawyers maintain that “he had the right to personal inviolability as a special envoy from Venezuela.”
The 49-year-old businessman’s name appeared in the media when the former Venezuelan prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz He accused him in 2017 of being one of the front men of the Venezuelan president.
Saab, born in the Colombian city of Barranquilla and of Lebanese origin, is related to several companies, including Group Grand Limited (GGL), accused of supplying food and supplies with surcharges to the Maduro Administration.
According to the US authorities, the businessman and three of Maduro’s stepchildren profited from these operations with “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
(With information from EFE)