Praia, Jul 28 (EFE) .- The defense of the Colombian businessman Álex Saab, alleged figurehead of the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, has accused the United States of “integral falsehood” in his request to Cape Verde to facilitate his extradition, which the Government endorses. of the African country, although the Cape Verdean Justice will make the final decision.
According to the challenge presented against the Cape Verdean government’s endorsement of the delivery of Saab, a 60-page document to which Efe had access, the businessman’s lawyers maintain that the United States has violated “the principle of criminal loyalty” in this case.
Saab was detained on June 12 when his plane stopped for refueling at Amilcar Cabral International Airport on the northern island of Sal (the most important in this West African island country), in response to a US request made through Interpol for alleged crimes of money laundering.
The defense has filed this month an appeal for protection of the alleged figurehead before the Constitutional Court of Cape Verde, as well as an appeal for opposition to the authorization given by the Executive to extradition, filed with the Barlavento Court of Appeals, based in the island of San Vicente (north of the archipelago), which must make the final decision.
In the opposition appeal, the lawyers maintain that “the acts imputed” to Saab, contained in “the request (for extradition) signed by the Attorney General of the Republic of Cape Verde and in the documents delivered by the United States, are all false “
The defense claims that the idea that the businessman collaborated and provided US agents with evidence of his alleged crimes, as contained in the extradition request, is “an unreasonable move to put the extradition on a collision course with Venezuela.”
THE PORTRAIT OF A “TRAITOR”
Likewise, the lawyers accuse Washington of offering a portrait of Saab “as a traitor, cooperator and collaborator”, in “violation of the principle of loyalty in criminal proceedings”, as the extradition process underway in Cape Verde “is evidence” that his client “has never cooperated or collaborated with the United States.”
Other evidence of the “falsity” of this alleged cooperation is that, to be true, the businessman “would have received a special status, not only for himself, but for the whole family”, which would have already been “integrated into a protection program of witnesses. “
“None of this has happened,” the lawyers settled in the brief. “In contrast, in documents submitted by the United States, the penalty for criminal offenses attributed in extradition is 20 years in prison for each of the charges of the prosecution,” which would total “a maximum penalty of 160 years” for jail.
In conclusion, the document emphasizes that “the events reported as occurring in Florida have never taken place” and that Saab “has never committed any act in the United States.”
In this sense, Alex Saab’s lawyers reject the US intention to act beyond its national jurisdiction, claiming the right, based on a supposed “universal jurisdiction”, to arrest and try foreign citizens residing in other countries for alleged acts committed outside the United States.
After the businessman’s arrest, Venezuela indicated that Saab is a Venezuelan citizen and a “agent” of the Government, who was “in transit” in Cape Verde to return to the country.
The defense maintains that Saab “had the right to personal inviolability as a special envoy from Venezuela in transit through Cape Verde.”
To achieve his goals, the businessman has hired an extensive team of lawyers that includes renowned international specialists, such as former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón.
ALLEGED BLEACHING OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
Despite keeping a low profile in Colombia, Saab’s name appeared in the media when former Venezuelan prosecutor Luisa Ortega accused him in 2017 of being one of Maduro’s figureheads.
Saab, born in the Colombian city of Barranquilla and of Lebanese origin, is related to several companies, including Group Grand Limited (GGL), accused of supplying surcharges to the Maduro regime with food and supplies for the government’s Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP).
A US government official indicated in July 2019 that with the CLAP, aimed at the poorest, Maduro’s businessman and three stepchildren apparently profited from “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Washington then also filed charges against Saab and his right-hand man, also Colombian Álvaro Enrique Pulido, whom he accuses of laundering up to 350 million dollars allegedly defrauded through the exchange control system in Venezuela.
According to the United States, between November 2011 and September 2015, Saab and Pulido conspired with others to launder their illicit profits and transfer them from Venezuela to US bank accounts, which is why Washington has jurisdiction in the case.
That is why Saab and Pulido have an open case for conspiracy to launder money since 2019 in the federal courts of the southern district of Florida, and the judge Robert N. Scola Jr. declared them fugitives from justice on August 26 of last year.
(c) EFE Agency