Femi Falana, the lead counsel to embattled Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, has accused the United States of pushing Cape Verde to ignore the immunity of Saab.
Falana however advised the United States government to stop placing its political hegemony over customary international law.
Falana made the advice in a letter written to Juan Gonzalez, the Special Assistant to United States President Joe Biden, over the continued political interference of the country in the planned extradition of his client.
Falana, in the letter, noted that he decided to write Gonzalez after President Biden failed to reply to his letter twice in the past few months.
“I have read with great interest your attributed comments on how you wish for the matter of Alex Saab and his extradition to the United States from the Republic of Cape Verde be dealt with without political interference.
“As ambassador Saab’s lead ECOWAS counsel I congratulate you on your wise words. However, we both know that the only political pressure that is being applied in this case is by the United States on Cape Verde.”
The Human right activist noted that even though Gonzalez had expressed a desire for the rule of law to prevail in relation to Ambassador Saab’s extradition and illegal detention, yet the US has mounted pressure on Cape Verde to ignore binding decisions from the ECOWAS Court of Justice declaring Ambassador Saab’s detention to be illegal and the extradition process be terminated.
He further noted that, “US has also pressurized Cape Verde to ignore rulings from the United Nations Human Rights Committee that the extradition process being carried out against Ambassador Saab be halted.
“It is undoubtedly clear that it is the United States that has pushed Cape Verde to ignore Ambassador Saab’s immunity and inviolability and it is the United States which has pushed Cape Verde to ignore the findings of the respected Geneva public prosecutor, who after a three-year investigation has declared that there is no basis for supporting allegations of money laundering against Ambassador Saab.”
Falana also asked what rule of law the top ranking aide would like Cape Verde to follow when his country continues to dictate it “in pursuit of its selfish politically motivated judicial overreach or one that is based upon long established international law and binding treaties between independent sovereign states?”
“It appears that you are not even willing to allow Cape Verde to follow its own Constitution and laws! It may interest you to know that the maximum time permitted for the Honourable Constitutional Court to rule on Ambassadors Saab’s appeal has now lapsed and there is no option but for him to be immediately released. Perhaps you will instruct Prime Minister Ulisses Correia on which law he is permitted to follow whilst he is in Washington these next few days?
I put it to you Mr Gonzalez that the United States has no interest in due legal process being followed when it comes to Ambassador Saab. The interest of the United States is only that its political will alone be obeyed no matter what cost has to be borne by Cape Verde. If the United States truly means what you say then please explain to the entire world, which is listening to your words and measuring them against your actions, what gives you the right to place your political hegemony above the requirements of customary international law,” he added rhetorically.
Saab was arrested and detained in Cape Verde based on the request of the Donald Trump led United States government during a stop over on his way to Iran over allegations of money laundering.
This is a move the Venezuelan government faulted with claims that the businessman is its special envoy on a humanitarian mission.
The Venezuelan government claimed that before his arrest, Saab had been on a mission to get food and medical supplies in Iran, stopping over in Cape Verde where he was arrested by security operatives.
The failure of Cape Verdean authorities to obey the ruling of the ECOWAS court by extraditing Saab to the US is not the first contempt for court order by the authorities since his detention last year.
Saab was denied access to any member of his defense team despite three court rulings granting him the right to do so.