THE TRUTH IS SELF-EVIDENT SO LONG AS YOU WANT TO FIND IT, ECOWAS COURT RECOGNISED THE FAILNGS WHICH PROSECUTOR GENERAL OVERLOOKED
Yesterday in an interview which continued his recent theme of treating the truth as a plaything, Cape Verde Prosecutor General José Landim flailed unconvincingly to explain why he had failed to spot the important error regarding the name on the warrant received in June 2020 to support the United States’s request for the
extradition of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab.
Why it has taken him a year to seek correction of an important procedural document and whose inaccuracy should have been enough for Alex Saab to be released then and there can only be explained by political expediency.
The defence team of Alex Saab is happy to share two documents which are shocking in the simple and clear way in which they prove why on March 15 and June 24 of this year, amongst other reasons, the ECOWAS Court of Justice was able to cut through the prevarication and obfuscation of José Landim and declare that Alex Saab’s arrest
and detention were illegal, that he be released immediately and the extradition process ended.
The first is a copy of the alleged Interpol Red Notice which Natalino Correia claims to have shown from his mobile phone to Alex Saab. As can be seen the document is explicit in stating that no arrest warrant has been received by Interpol to support the request for the publication of the Red Notice.
The second document is the warrant contained in the Extradition Request sent by the United States on 29 June 2020. Contrary to José Landim’s declaration, it is very clear that the warrant in not in the name of Alex Saab. It does not matter what translations may say, because the only document which counts is the original warrant provided and it is clearly not in the name of Alex Saab.
[COPY OF WARRANT IN THE EXTRADITION REQUEST]
José Landim’s latest claims have been dismissed by Alex Saab’s defence team as just more self-serving nothing. Dr Jose-Manuel Pinto Monteiro, Lead Cape Verde counsel for Alex Saab responded “I am appalled at the Prosecutor General’s ignorance on the facts of this matter.
From day one the defence has highlighted that the arrest warrant in the Extradition Request of 29 June 2020 is not in the name of Alex Saab. This is no “trivial mistake” and on its own should have ensured the release of Alex Saab. The second point, now that the Prosecutor General has also mentioned it, is that the Red Notice which he claims to have been the basis of making the initial arrest of Alex Saab was not supported by an arrest warrant.
The United States did not provide a valid arrest warrant to neither Interpol nor Cape Verde. Importantly there was no arrest warrant authorised by any Cape Verde court which supported Alex Saab’s arrest on 12 June 2020.”
Dr Pinto Monteiro went on to say, “All of these issues and others have been highlighted by the defence for more than a year and to his eternal shame the Prosecutor General has consistently dismissed the procedural errors as “trivial” and repeatedly assured the courts that he is “satisfied by the assurances provided to him by the United States.
Just to clarify – the assurances that the United States gave to Cape Verde are such that they will not be able to
reciprocate in the event Cape Verde ever seeks the extradition of anyone from the United States in the absence of a bilateral extradition treaty.
Furthermore, the Prosecutor General claims time and time again to be satisfied with the U.S. assurances that Alex Saab would not face a whole-of-life sentence if convicted because the U.S. has offered to reduce the number of charges in Miami from eight to one.
This “offer” was provided by the US executive branch, in the form of a Diplomatic Note, rather than, as required
by Cape Verde law, from the US judiciary. His casual acceptance of half-baked assurances expose Alex Saab to a whole-of life sentence if found guilty, which José Landim knows is not permitted under the Constitution of Cape Verde.
The Prosecutor General’s claim that the defence has not raised the issue of the arrest warrant is baseless and he knows it is an outright false assertion.”
In response to José Landim’s comments, Alex Saab’s lead ECOWAS counsel, renowned human rights lawyer Femi Falana, SAN, commented “Mr Landim can live in denial, but he cannot get away from the fact that the numerous irregularities surrounding the arrest and detention of Alex Saab were brought before the ECOWAS Court of Justice back in September 2020.
On 15 March 2021, the ECOWAS Court of Justice handed down a unanimous binding ruling in which it declared that the arrest and subsequent detention of Alex Saab were illegal and that he must therefore be released immediately, and the extradition process be terminated.”
Mr Falana went on to highlight an important aspect of the ECOWAS Court’s decision “The Prosecutor General is fully aware that the 15 March ruling was delivered by Judge Rapporteur Justice Januária Tavares Silva Moreira Costa, who is not only a respected ECOWAS judge, but one of Cape Verde’s most respected jurists and that country’s former Minister of Justice. It is no coincidence that she was selected to sit as one of the panellists given the significant issues
of Cape Verdean Law which are pertinent to the Alex Saab’s case.
The 15 March ECOWAS ruling details extensive violations of Cape Verde law (along with international law) that took
place in the arrest and detention of Alex Saab, which is why the ECOWAS Court of Justice, guided by Justice Costa’s unimpeachable knowledge of Cape Verde law, concluded that Alex Saab’s must be released immediately”.
Jose Landim publicly denies a binding nature of ECOWAS Court’s decisions but in his submissions to the Constitutional Court on 22 June he begs the Constitutional Court to wait for a decision due on 24 June from the ECOWAS Court, the very court whose authority he denies.
It also implies that if he gets a decision in his favour he would accept it but if it were to go against him he would cynically dismiss it as not being applicable and thus openly reflecting the arbitrary nature of his application of the law.
Both attorneys also question why if José Landim now wants to come clean and correct a fundamental error a year after it was first highlighted by them, then why does he not admit that he was wrong with respect to Alex Saab’s status as a lawfully appointed Special Envoy and that he has immunity and inviolability which comes with such status.
They point out that when on 12 June 2020, Cape Verde police officer Natalino Correia forced his way on to Alex Saab’s aircraft, Mr Saab immediately identified himself as a Special Envoy and told him he carried the documents (i.e. Special Envoy letters from Venezuela to Iran) to prove this. The attorneys say that for reasons that have never been properly explained, the Prosecutor General, with the blessing of Prime Minister Ulisses Correia, President Jorge
Fonseca and Minister of the Interior Paulo Rocha chose to ignore this evidence.
Dr Pinto Monteiro and Mr Falana also point out that it is now known that the José Landim had another opportunity to correct this blunder just a few hours later when the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela officially communicated to Cape Verde that Alex Saab was its Special Envoy and formally invoked his immunity.
José Landim’s response to direct evidence provided by one sovereign state to another was met with unprecedented and disrespectful silence can only be explained by political expediency rather than José Landim’s attempts to deflect decision-making to the Cape Verde courts.
Mr Falana says “Having cited the Red Notice as being the basis for Alex Saab’s arrest, the Prosecutor General cannot explain why Cape Verde refused to immediately release Alex Saab once the Red Notice was cancelled on 25 June 2020.
At that time the Prosecutor General and all of the Cape Verde executive was fully informed of Alex Saab’s status as a lawfully appointed Special Envoy engaged on a humanitarian Special Mission.”
Contrary to its self-cultivated image of squeaky cleanliness, something is clearly rotten in the State of Cape Verde. José Landim caved into political expediency and his attempts to backstroke away from the mess which he has been an active participant in creating looks set to be shown for what it is by the Constitutional Court. A cover up can only be sustained for so long.
FEMI FALANA, SAN, FCI Arb.