José Landim, the Attorney General of Cape Verde says the country’s refusal to obey the ECOWAS court ruling in the case of detained Venezuelan, Alex Saab may have negative political consequences.
Landim, also admitted that the process of extradition of Saab is politically motivated.
His office is responsible for executing the decision of the Government of Cape Verde to extradite Saab to the United States.
The Cape Verde Attorney General was among the country’s political office holders initially fronting the legal case against the Venezuelan diplomat.
In a Premium Times report in January 2021, Landim had registered that the country was not in agreement with the body on the supplementary protocol on the ECOWAS court that empowers the code to entertain human right ramifications.
But in his latest comment, he backtracked and highlighted possible political consequences for Cape Verde.
“From the beginning, we have always said that we apply the laws of Cape Verde and the Constitution of the Republic, and not laws that one wants to impose from outside. We apply what we understand to be the applicable law,” Landim said.
“Other consequences will be political, perhaps, but it is no longer up to me to answer that question. If there are other consequences, I’m sure the State will know how to react because I believe we are acting well,” he told journalists after a meeting with the President of the Republic.
However, José Manuel Pinto Monteiro, the leading Cape Verdean lawyer for Alex Saab, rebuffed the Attorney General’s statements, interpreting them as an unequivocal acknowledgment that the extradition process of Saab to the United States is based exclusively on political assumptions.
“The observations of the PGR, today, are clear and unequivocal proof of the political nature of Cape Verde’s intervention in this matter”, so the lawyer reacted when asked to read Mr Landim’s statements, adding that “the fact is that the Alex Saab’s detention was, from the beginning, a political decision, and it is a political decision that must be taken to free him”.
“It was the executive [Government] and not the courts that decided to arrest [Alex Saab], it was the executive and not the courts that delayed the release on June 25, 2020, when INTERPOL canceled the Red Alert for its American friends could issue the extradition request, and it is the executive, as the Supreme Court of Justice itself indicated, that must decide the final fate of Alex Saab”,
The lawyer also tells the PGR that, “if you intend to preserve Cape Verde’s good name, this is your opportunity to confess that you were wrong and to do the right thing.”
The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECCJ) ruling on Alex Saab’s case, on 15 March, said the arrest of the diplomat had been illegal, having been carried out without an appropriate Interpol Red Notice or arrest warrant. It ordered Cape Verde to immediately release Saab, terminate extradition processes, and pay him $200,000 by way of compensation.
Aside from the ECOWAS judgement, the Geneva prosecutor’s office has also dropped the money laundering charges initially levelled against him.