Spanish – A few hours after Donald Trump left the White House, the Cape Verdean justice changed its mind regarding Álex Saab. Now the Court of Appeals of Barlavento ruled that the alleged frontman of Nicolás Maduro will receive the benefit of house arrest, although a month ago, Attorney General Luis José Landim dismissed this option.
In December, the attorney general refused to grant the measure in favor of Saab. His argument went against the ruling of the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which required that country to give the green light to the benefit of house arrest.
Landim explained at the time that Cape Verde had not ratified the 2005 protocol granting jurisdiction to the court in human rights cases. His position seemed firm. He said that “there is no legal basis” for the application of the community court’s ruling. “If the court has no jurisdiction, it cannot decide on this issue.”
The court ruling obtained by EFE details that “immediate release orders will follow the presentation of a suitable home endorsed by the criminal authorities.” This would be momentary because the Colombian businessman is awaiting extradition to the United States to answer for the laundering of some 350 million USD linked to the Chavista dictatorship.
However, Associated Press journalist Joshua Goodman questions whether this could affect the process. “(I’m) not sure if or how this will affect extradition proceedings, but Saab is considered Maduro’s frontman by the US and was given a diplomatic position by Venezuela’s socialist government,” he said.
Major twist: Cabo Verde grants house arrest to businessman Alex Saab. Not sure if or how this will affect extradition proceedings but Saab is considered Maduro's frontman by the US and was given a diplomatic position by Venezuela's socialist government. https://t.co/E2r4SW5vMK
— Joshua Goodman (@APjoshgoodman) January 21, 2021
Road to the United States
US jurisdiction in the case occurs because the Venezuelan money that Saab allegedly managed to launder was deposited in US accounts. There are other accused associates of Maduro’s alleged frontman.
Faced with the risk of escape at the beginning of the year, the US deployed a whole military operation in African waters. Anti-missile boats and the support of two European countries guaranteed the surveillance of a possible escape of Saab with the help of Iranian allies.
The US was firmly watching the accused. However, the new relaxation of house arrest by the Cape Verdean judiciary comes just one day after the new administration of Joe Biden was sworn in.
Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, professes a hard line against the Venezuelan regime. He referred to Maduro as a “brutal dictator” and assured that the new administration would try to “more effectively target” sanctions on Venezuela. For Blinken to assume his position, he must be ratified by the US Senate, and it is then when these arguments exposed in previous hearings in the body will be verified. What is certain is that this change of line by the Cape Verdean justice occurs just one day after Donald Trump left power.
From his trench, Nicolás Maduro is mounting efforts to avoid a conviction against his partner. At the end of December, he reportedly sent a shipment of gold to Cape Verde to open a liberation route.
“The gold they are taking out of Minerven is being sent to Cape Verde because they need to reach the whole network necessary to get Álex Saab out of jail,” revealed a source to Infobae.
The operation allegedly involves Carlos Rolando Lizcano Manrique, who allegedly manages multiple businesses in Venezuela for the 48-year-old Barranquilla native.
Another lifeline attempted by Maduro was to appoint Saab as Venezuela’s alternate permanent representative to the African Union to protect him diplomatically with international treaties and agreements, reported El Tiempo.
Sources in the United States told the media that Maduro’s diplomatic move shows how important Saab is within the regime. Indeed, Saab’s value would be high because of the information he has on secret agreements with Iran, Turkey, and Russia.
“It is clear that they want to avoid his extradition to the United States by all means,” the sources added. In the meantime, it is unknown whether the measure will have any influence on the ongoing extradition process.