Venezuelan diplomat held in prison released, put under house arrest

Alex Saab, the Venezuelan diplomat arrested in Cape Verde in June 2020 on the orders of the US over allegations of corruption has been released from prison custody and put under house arrest on the orders of the ECOWAS court and the Barlavento Court of Appeal.

This comes after a back and forth between Mr. Saab’s lawyers and security agencies in Cape Verde over full compliance to the ruling which was given on January 22, 2021.

Falana & Falana Chambers, the legal representatives of Alex Saab confirmed his release in a letter to the ECOWAS court on January 26, 2021.

Although the court gave the ruling on Friday 22 January 2021, Saab was kept in prison until around 6 pm, Monday, 25 January 2021.

A local publication, Notícias do Norte stated in a publication on Monday that he is being kept in a private residence being guarded by state security officials and some elements of private security.

The legal team of Mr. Saab, led by Femi Falana last week raised concerns over the failure of the security authorities in Cape Verde to immediately comply with the ruling of the court although they were formally served with the decision.

With that issue settled now, the legal team now wants the ECOWAS Court to intervene and stop Cape Verde from proceeding with the extradition of Saab to the US.

“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. We are therefore praying the Court further intervention in this matter and decide on the Main Application in light of this,” Femi Falana noted in the letter addressed to the ECOWAS court.

Alex Saab was arrested in Cape Verde on the orders of the US in June 2020 on his way to Iran on official duties for the Venezuelan government.

The US wants him extradited to face charges of corruption, but Venezuela has taken a stance against that decision as Mr. Saab’s lawyers fight to stop the process.

Cape Verde has agreed to extradite him despite a ruling by the ECOWAS court but Mr. Saab’s lawyers are fighting the move.

The ECOWAS court agrees that the process should be halted until it makes a final determination on the substantive matter on whether Mr. Saab should be extradited.

That case will be heard on February 4, 2021.

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