“It is essential to denounce the political nature of this case and I request that the Cape Verdean authorities urgently recognise this reality. At stake is the life and freedom of a person for whom, at the moment, none of the accusations made by the United States has been proven”, says
Baltasar Garzón of the Special Envoy’s international defense team.
Former Head of Legal Affairs of INTERPOL, Dr. Rutsel Martha, also a member of the international defense team, adds “the Cabo Verdean judiciary is called upon to uphold one of the oldest and unquestioned rules of public international law, namely that the government envoys on mission cannot be subjected to criminal proceedings, let alone be extradited to a third State”
Cape Verde, August 15, 2020
Yesterday, the international defense team of Special Envoy Alex Saab filed an Appeal before the Cape Verdean Supreme Court against the arrest warrant and the extradition decision of the Barlavento Court of Appeal on July 31.
This appeal, on which the Court has up to 80 days to decide, is part of the legal actions that the defense has launched after hearing the lower court’s, described by Lead Local Counsel Dr. Jose Manuel Pinto Monteiro as “unfounded and not responding to the questions raised in the opposition”.
Baltasar Garzón, a key member of the international team, explains this is an appeal, “in which we have highlighted the political nature of the case and urge the Cape Verdean authorities to fully recognise this reality.” For the defense, the importance of evaluating the magnitude of the US confrontation against Venezuela and its influence in the case of Mr. Saab is highlighted, “because what is at stake here is the life and freedom of a person who is being accused of wrongdoing based on evidecne of discredited witnesses.”Judge Baltasar went on to say “Not a single shred of evidence has been produced by the US to substantiate those allegations. The US is grandstanding and sensationalising for the benefit of the Executive rather than in the interests of justice”.
The Supreme Court
After considering the Appeal, the Supreme Court can rule in one of two ways: either by acknowledging the errors of the Court in the first instance and send the matter back to the Barlavento Court of Appeal, or by ruling on the extradition itself, accepting it or rejecting it. “If it opts for the first option, it would be a matter of correcting the abuses of the rights and procedural guarantees of our client”, said Balthazar,
“and we could face the regular procedure of extradition in accordance with the legislation of Cape Verde”.
This procedure would require full knowledge of the brief from the Prosecutor’s Office (which up until now has mysteriously remained cloaked in secrecy), to be able to have a legal mandated hearing in which the arguments outlined by the defense and by Special Envoy Saab himself, the submitted expert legal reports, and the requested evidence can all be heard. In other words, the manifest procedural errors would be disregarded and the procedure would start all over again but this time in a manner in which Special Envoy Saab receives he due process to which he is legally entitled.
The other option would be for the Supreme Court to make a direct decision on the merits of the extradition request. In the event the Court were to rule to grant the extradition request, Special Envoy Saab’s defense has declared that it will exercise all rights and use all national and international mechanisms so that this extradition does not take place. The team intends to place emphasis on the immunity of the Special Envoy, the illegality of his arrest, the violation of INTERPOL’s own rules in permitting the arrest of the Special Envoy through it’s channels, violations of his basic and fundamental human rights, the political and extraterritorial nature of the extradition request itself and last, but not least, demonstrating in an irrefutable manner that the allegations which lie at the heart of the Miami indictment and therefore the extradition request are baseless, without merit and created to fulfill the will of the Executive rather than any meaningful law enforcement process..
Furthermore, the possible dispatch of Special Envoy Saab to the United States, in the framework of the present extradition request, carries a risk of the right to a fair trial with respect to the norms in force in international law. There can be no discussion or debate to the effect that the Special Envoy Saab, by the very nature of his status, should be treated in accordance with universally-accepted norms of
international law and that his immunity should be recognized and render him non-extraditable. Upholding this age rule is in all countries’ self-interest. No country, including the USA itself, would not wish their special envoys on mission be detained and extradited to a third State.
The defense insists that this reality reflects without any doubt that this case is being used as one more example in the political battle between the US and Venezuela. Justice has been used as one more arm of US diplomacy against Venezuelans and the politicization of Justice cannot be allowed. Garzón, in this sense, has declared that for this reason “I accepted this case and that is why the defense team will fight
in this process for many weeks, months or years that can continue as expected. We will make a defense, until the end, with the law in hand, before all the instances and mechanisms with the firm hope that, at some point in this absurd process, the application of the law will recover the dignity, rigor and spirit of being fair that he should never have lost ”.