PEPwatch: Cape Verde To Send Alex Saab To Miami

September 16, 2021
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The Constitutional Court of Cape Verde has entered a ruling that clears the extradition of accused Colombian money launderer Alex Nain Saab Moran to the United States, where he faces federal charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. Saab, a close associate of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, stands accused of money laundering on a global scale.

The Constitutional Court of Cape Verde has entered a ruling that clears the extradition of accused Colombian money launderer Alex Nain Saab Moran to the United States, where he faces federal charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. Saab, a close associate of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, stands accused of money laundering on a global scale. His case is pending in a U.S. District Court in Miami.

Saab was arrested in Cape Verde on a U.S. warrant in June 2020, en route to Iran as an agent for President Maduro.

Saab had previously lost his appeal against the extradition order before the Cape Verde Supreme Court back in March, and the Constitutional Court was his court of last resort. Reports from Cape Verde indicate that his efforts to seek relief were dismissed, in a 200-page opinion. There appears to be no other legal avenue available to him in the Cape Verde court system, although his defence counsel might take some sort of dilatory action.

The defendant's attorneys embarked on a separate action in the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice, but the Cape Verde courts held that the ECOWAS court had no jurisdiction over them.

Saab's supporters have run an extensive public-relations campaign online, characterizing him as an innocent man facing purely political charges in the U.S.

U.S. authorities, on the other hand, characterise him as a career criminal dedicated to moving money over borders for the Maduro regime and its most senior officials, while also helping both Venezuela and Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

When taken into custody, Saab claimed diplomatic immunity through Venezuela, although he is a Colombian citizen. He did not have a diplomatic passport when detained and there are serious questions concerning whether he actually is a valid diplomat under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, given his diplomatic passport from Antigua & Barbuda and his lack of qualifications for, and confirmation of, diplomatic status. He has never been accredited to any specific jurisdiction as a diplomat assigned to a defined mission.

Saab's Miami attorneys, who unsuccessfully sought to have his fugitive status removed in his Miami case, notwithstanding that he has not appeared before a U.S. court, have appealed against the District Court ruling to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. His supporters, writing in various news outlets, believe that this appeal could succeed.

However, the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine, which prohibits absent defendants from seeking any relief in U.S. courts, appears to govern his circumstances.

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