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Again, Cape Verde Denied Lawyers Access To Venezuelan Diplomat

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Alex Saab

Lawyers on the defence team of Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, have been denied access to their client in Cape Verde for the fourth time. 

Saab was arrested and detained in Cape Verde based on the request of the Donald Trump led United States government during a stop over on his way to Iran over allegations of money laundering, a move the Venezuelan government faulted with claims that the businessman is his special envoy on a humanitarian mission.

The Venezuelan government claimed that before his arrest, Saab had been on a mission to get food and medical supplies in Iran, stopping over in Cape Verde where he was arrested by security operatives.

However, since his detention, Saab has been denied access to members of his defence team despite three court rulings granting him the right to do so. 

Two of the judgements are from the Barlavento Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Justice in Cape Verde while the third is a binding ruling from the ECOWAS Court of Justice. 

The first ruling from the Barlavento Court of Appeal was on 21 January 2021 when it ruled that Saab may not contact anyone apart from the lawyers who are representing 
him. 

In another decision by the same Court dated 29 January 2021, it ruled that Saab may receive regular visits from his lawyers for a period or up to 3 
hours. 

In the same vein, on 20 February 2021, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled that the house arrest of Saab does not limit freedom and movement adding that the “current actions of Cape Verde violate all legal norms, international and domestic court orders.”

On Monday, two members of Saab’s defence were denied access to him by Police officers

Reacting to this, the diplomat’s defence team lead, Jose-Manual Monteiro, described it as an attempt to deliberately hinder the legal process despite court orders. 

“The lawyers in question had all the necessary immigration and health certification to be permitted to legally enter Cape Verde. All of these were checked before they boarded the flight. Ambassador Saab is clearing being denied his right to defend himself,” he noted. 

The defence team also demanded that the voices of Cape Verde’s European champions make themselves heard and condemn this “dictatorial and authoritarian” behaviour. 

The team challenged Luxembourg, the largest investor in Cape Verde, and Portugal, the former colonial master which has been usurped in that role, and the US State Department under the Biden administration, to “stand up for the rule of law or allow politically motivated extraterritorial 
judicial overreach to rule as it did under President Trump.” 

Saab’s team added that the contempt for due process and civilised behaviour by Cape Verde is disgraceful and must stop immediately.

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