Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has urged the United States to end the judicial persecution of Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, alleging that such is politically motivated.

Falana, who made the call in a statement on Monday, based his comment on the outcome of an investigation carried out by the Genevan Public Prosecutor.

Alex Saab

According to Falana, the Geneva Public Prosecutor commenced an investigation into the alleged money laundering case instituted against Alex Saab in 2018.

He, however, said three years after, the investigation has now been terminated with the Geneva Public Prosecutor concluding that “...there is no additional element to continue the investigation on the count of Money Laundering...”.

Falana stated that the Geneva Public Prosecutor’s findings are an important counterweight to the accusations of the United States, stressing the need for Saab's release by the Cape Verdean government.

The human rights activist also urged both nations to follow the order of the ECOWAS Court of Justice which held on March 15 that Saab’s arrest by Cape Verde was illegal and that he be released immediately along with the termination of the extradition process to the United States.

The statement read, “H.E. Alex Saab, who is both the Alternate Permanent Representative to the African Union and a Special Envoy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was arrested on June 12, 2020, by Cape Verde at the request of the United States on allegations of money laundering.

“At the time of his arrest, he was undertaking a humanitarian Special Mission to procure urgently required medicines and medical equipment when he made a refuelling stop on the Cape Verdean Island of Sal.

“After his initial arrest, which took place in direct contravention of long-established international law governing the movement of diplomats and political agents, H.E. Alex Saab was held in prison conditions which even the US State Department has described as '...life-threatening.'

“Following an order of the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the envoy was moved to house arrest at the end of January of this year.

“In a further binding ruling handed down on 15 March 2021, the ECOWAS Court of Justice declared that H.E. Alex Saab’s arrest by Cape Verde was illegal, and that he should be released immediately along with the termination of the extradition process to the United States. Thus far, Cape Verde has refused to comply with the order of the regional court.

“The United States has applied economic and political sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela which, according to a February 2021 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur Ms Alena Douhan are ‘...on a scale unprecedented in history’.

“The use by the United States of politically motivated extraterritorial judicial overreach as an instrument of executing a policy of regime change flies in a direct challenge to Article 2(1) of the United Nations Charter, which calls for the non-interference in the internal affairs of another state.

“In early 2018, the Geneva Public Prosecutor began an investigation into alleged money laundering by H.E. Alex Saab. The investigation has now been terminated after three years with the Geneva Public Prosecutor concluding that '...there is no additional element to continue the investigation on the count of Money Laundering...'.

“Furthermore, it was agreed that H.E. Alex Saab’s legal costs in relation to the investigation 'would be compensated'.

“The Defence Team has asserted for many months that the extradition request made by the United States on 29 June 2020 to the Republic of Cape Verde is politically motivated and based on unsubstantiated allegations founded on testimony from discredited informants.

“The Geneva Public Prosecutor’s findings are an important counterweight to the politically motivated accusations of the United States.

“On the basis of the findings of the Geneva Public Prosecutor and the ECOWAS Court of Justice, two highly reputable independent authorities, the Defence Team calls upon the United States to end its politically motivated judicial persecution of H.E. Alex Saab and for the Republic of Cape Verde to release him in accordance with the binding, valid and subsisting judgment of the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States.”

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