Alex Saab gets $200,000 compensation from Cape Verde

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court sitting in Abuja on Monday has vindicated diplomat, Alex Saab, who was arrested in Cape Verde last year following an allegation of money laundering.

Ruling in the case titled ECW/CCJ/APP/43/20: Alex SAAB v. REPUBLIC OF CAPE VERDE, the court held that Saab was unlawfully and arbitrarily arrested.

The counsel for Saab, Femi Falana, asserted that his customer was a negotiator at the hour of his capture and subsequently delighted in conciliatory insusceptibility and sacredness and couldn’t be exposed to detainment and lawful procedures by Cape Verde.

Falana likewise put forth a defense for the unlawful capture and confinement of his client.

While conveying her judgment, Justice Januaria Tavares Costa, deciphered for by Justice Amaoko Asante, excused the first and second cases expressing that Saab couldn’t guarantee strategic invulnerability as his papers had lapsed at the hour of his capture.

She likewise struck out the subsequent case, expressing that there are global conditions for being a unique emissary.

Notwithstanding, on the third tally, Costa said Saab was captured on the twelfth of June by the Cape Verdean police in the wake of being provoked by the United States Interpol.

She said the high alert was dated thirteenth of June which showed that the capture was unlawful as there was no capture warrant at the hour of the capture.

The adjudicator portrayed Saab’s capture and ensuing confinement as illicit, subsequently, the court requested Cape Verde to deliver Saab and stop all cycles of removal to the United States.

She added that they found that his arrest was arbitrarily done by the criminal police of Cape Verde” and his subsequent detention are “all illegal”.

Saab was awarded $200, 000 as compensation as against the $500,000 requested.

In his reaction, Falana, who is the counsel for Saab, expressed joy over the ruling of the court.

Falana said: “We commend the court for this judgment and we hope that the copies will be made available as soon as possible. We are happy with the judgment.”

According to him, Saab’s status as a diplomat has been brought to question after his arrest in June 2020 at the request of the United States of America for alleged financial crimes.

ALSO READ: Cape Verde Authorities Detain Alex Saab’s Local Defense Team Head

Until recently, Saab was held in the country’s prison against the ECOWAS court order that the diplomat be placed on house arrest until its main hearing on February 5, after three consecutive adjournments.

At the last hearing, Falana had argued that, “when detained, Alex Saab was engaged in a humanitarian special mission to Iran. He had, and continues to have, the status of a Special Envoy of Venezuela.

“He, therefore, enjoys diplomatic immunity and inviolability. Therefore, not only can he not be subjected to imprisonment and legal proceedings by Cape Verde, such actions also violate customary international law.”

On 24 December 2020, Alex Saab was delegated as Alternate Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the African Union. His invulnerability was subsequently built up, yet it likewise exhibited that he keeps on instructing the full help of Venezuela as a discretionary specialist. No complaints have been raised to Mr Saab’s arrangement by the African Union.

“It’s anything but a matter for Cape Verde (or some other nation so far as that is concerned) to raise issue with whom Venezuela as a sovereign state names as its diplomat. Similarly it is for Iran to decide whether it perceives Mr Saab as a Special Envoy to Iran and no outsider.

“In spite of the fact that Cape Verde has delivered Alex Saab into house capture, it has just done as such to give the impression of having agreed with the ECOWAS Court 2 December) choice.

“Actually Cape Verde has just mostly hesitantly agreed and the states of Mr Saab’s purported house capture are well shy of acknowledged global norms and even beneath those Cape Verde itself has offered to tranquilize dealers before.”

Counsel for the defendant, Henrique Borges argued that the ECOWAS court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, he said: “Cape Verde does not recognise the authority of the ECOWAS Court to decide this case as it has not signed and, consequently, not bound by the Additional Protocols of ECOWAS Court.”

Borges further claimed at the hearing that they had filed some additional documents (namely legal opinion(s)) but could not remember when they had done so when asked by the court!

Falana insisted: “Cape Verde has to comply with the ECOWAS Ruling in accordance with the Revised Treaty (Article 15) besides the Additional Protocols. Under the provisions of the Additional Protocol 2005, if 9 States Members sign it, it becomes binding for all the members of ECOWAS.

“In this case, 14 out of 15 member states signed with the only one not signing was Cape Verde and that only because its Prime Minister at the time had to return to CV to deal with an emergency.

“Cape Verde has not at any time since expressed any discomfort with the protocols, at the material time fully participated in the discussions to agree the protocols and, importantly has one of its jurists appointed as a member of the ECOWAS Panel of Judges, its current Chief Justice is a member of the Committee of Chief Justices of the ECOWAS Court and a currently serving member of the Cape Verde Supreme Court was previously a member of the ECOWAS Court. Once again, by its conduct Cape Verde can be seen to have accepted the jurisdiction of the ECOWAS Court.”

Saab was arrested on June 12 during a stopover at Amilcar Cabral International Airport on the Island of Sal by the Cape Verdean government. He was traveling to Venezuela from Iran.

His arrest by the Cape Verdean Government was hinged on an international arrest warrant purportedly issued by Interpol at the request of the United States.

The Venezuelan Authorities have continued to call for the Saab’s unconditional release, adding that he had diplomatic immunity when he was arrested.

The ECOWAS Court had in its December 20, 2020 ruling ordered the Republic of Cape Verde to place Saab under permanent home detention in good conditions, including access to medical treatment and visits. The Court also ordered that the applicant should not be extradited pending the decision of the Court on the substantive matter.


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