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‘Halt extradition of Venezuelan envoy in Cape Verde’ — Falana writes ECOWAS court

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer and counsel to Alex Saab, a special Venezuelan envoy, has asked the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court to stop the extradition process of his client who is under house arrest in Cape Verde.

Saab has been in prison since June when his private jet made a stopover in the West African country while on his way to Iran.

The envoy, who is caught up in a feud between Venezuela, his country, and the US, was on a humanitarian mission to the Asian country.

The US had put pressure on Cape Verde to arrest Saab with plans of extraditing him to face corruption charges.

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But the regional court ordered the extradition proceedings be stopped in Cape Verde pending the determination of the suit filed by Falana before it.

In a letter dated January 26 and addressed to the registrar of the court, Falana said while Cape Verde complied with the order placing Saab under house arrest, it has not obeyed the ruling suspending the extradition process of his client.

“This Honourable Court delivered its Ruling on 2 December, 2020 in respect of the Motion for Expedited Procedure filed by the Applicant (‘the Ruling”). The Honourable Court in this Ruling (amongst others) gave order for house arrest for the applicant,” the lawyer said.

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“The Attorney General of the Defendant (‘the Attorney General”) commented in a statement issued December 8, 2020 that Cape Verde would not comply with the Ruling because the Supplementary Protocol of 2005 has not yet been signed by the country’s Prime Minister, approved by the Parliament and ratified by the national assembly. A copy of the statement of the Attorney General was submitted to the Honourable Court on January 19, 2020.

“We countered the misleading position of the Attorney General and filed a motion praying the Court to direct the Authority of Heads of State to impose sanctions for disobedience of the Court Order.

“To prevent the Applicant from pressing for sanctions, the Attorney General approached the Barlavento Court of Appeal of Cape Verde last Wednesday (January 20, 2021) to order that the Applicant be placed in a house arrest. The order which was granted on 21 January, 2021 was honoured yesterday, January, 25, 2021.

“Whilst we are grateful to the Honorable Court for its intervention, we would like to bring to its attention that Cape Verde, in direct defiance of the Ruling, has not stayed the extradition process and proceeded to authorise it on January 4, 2021.

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“We are therefore praying the Court further intervention in this matter and decide on the Main Application in light of this.”

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