On 21 July the United States submitted its extradition request for Alex Saab to Cape Verde.
In a shocking admission, the Cape Verde Attorney General has admitted that the arrest warrant contained in the request was not in Alex Saab’ name. Despite this glaring legal error, Cape Verde’s Minister of Justice and the Attorney General still approved the extradition request.
What the motivation was for these two senior officials to overlook this important point remains unanswered but we do know Attorney General José Landim is trying to pass it off as a “trivial mistake”.
These facts were relevant for the ECOWAS Court in its decision to consider the detention illegal.
The law has been blatantly violated by the United States and Cape Verde which was confirmed by honorable justices of the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
Closer examination of the events surrounding Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab’s 12 June 2020 arrest are revealing addition and substantial legal errors. Presumably it was these errors which the ECOWAS Court of Justice recognized when it ruled earlier this year on 15 March and 24 June that Alex Saab’s arrest and detention were illegal due to substantial violations of Cape Verde Law.
It is now known that at the time of his arrest on 12 June 2020, Alex Saab was not presented with a Red Notice, despite claims by Natalino Correia (arresting policeman) to the contrary. Correia did not, and could not, have shown Alex Saab “the Red Notice” as it was only after the arrest. The Red Notice against Alex Saab did not contain, as required, an underlying arrest warrant which means that the Red Notice was published in breach of INTERPOL’s own Rules of Processing Data (IRPD) which require “reference to a valid arrest warrant” as per Article 83 (2) (v) about the minimum data required before the issuance of Red Notices.
Why would INTERPOL be so lax in following its own rules? It may be coincidence, but INTERPOL’s Head of Legal Affairs is Mary D. Rodriguez, seconded to INTERPOL from the United States Department of Justice where, presumably she will return once her time at INTERPOL is over.
Nonetheless, Venezuela successfully challenged the illegality of the Red Notice and it was cancelled on 25 June 2020. The Bolivarian Republic immediately communicated to Cape Verdean Attorney Generall, Minister of Justice, Barlavento Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Justice for Alex Saabs release. Venezuela’s legal and legitimate request received no response.
In the days after Alex Saab’s arrest on 12 June 2020, José Landim boasted to the world how Saab had been arrested as a result of Cape Verde’s cooperation with international colleagues based on an INTERPOL Red Notice. By 25 June the illegitimacy of the Red Notice and Cape Verde’s shameful complicity in the arrest of a lawfully appointed diplomat was clear for the world to see.
Jose Landim’s admission, hidden away in submission to the Constitutional Court brings discredits him and brings shame on his office. The least he can do is to now admit the whole entrapment of Alex Saab was politically motivated and ask the Court to order Saab’s immediate release.