Alex Saab, a Venezuelan diplomat who has been in a Cabo Verdean prison since June 2020 on a U.S. arrest warrant is said to have had his application seeking his removal from prison approved by the Barlavento Court of Appeal.
The court on Thursday, January 21, 2021, said Alex Saab, 49, should rather be placed under house arrest while he fights an extradition request to face corruption charges in South Florida.
This, the court said, should be adhered to, till the apex court of Cabo Verdean gives its final verdict on the case.
“For the practical effect of this article, the extradited person, as already exposed, and once he has financial possibilities and has already requested it, must qualify a residence for the purposes of his stay, which will be approved by the competent authorities, the criminal police, to safety effects and in order to avoid the serious danger of escape,” a portion of a document from the court reads.
“Prosecutors in Cabo Verde said in a statement that the decision for house arrest was partly based on the fact that Saab has remained provisionally detained longer than the maximum allowed,” reports Times Union.
Mr. Saab, a known businessman closely associated with the current Venezuelan government was arrested by police in Cape Verde last year on his way to Iran aboard a private jet.
According to Times Union, U.S. officials believe Saab holds many secrets about how Maduro, his family and top aides allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars in government contracts amid widespread hunger in the oil-rich nation.
Prior to the approval of Saab’s application, a survey assessing the decisions of the Cape Verdean government in the case showed that citizens in that country are unhappy with the actions the government has taken so far.
The survey report said the government acted unfairly by taking a side when it should have remained neutral in the impasse between the U.S. and Venezuela over the arrest and detention of Saab.
Venezuela, which said it had given Saab a diplomatic status is of the view that he cannot be extradited to the U.S. because he is their diplomat and was on an assignment for them when he was arrested.
Besides the three countries involved in the case, other African countries also waded into the matter. A group of lawyers including Nigeria’s famed human rights lawyer and former president of the West African Bar Association, Femi Falana, earlier this month jointly wrote to the president of Cape Verde, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, to call for Alex Saab’s immediate release.
They said his detention is illegal and a breach of international law.