Miami judge erred in ruling; I’m a diplomat and immune to prosecution – Alex Saab

Alex Saab, the Venezuelan diplomat, who risks prosecution on criminal charges, is challenging a decision by a US Court.

A Miami Court had ruled that Alex Saab was not immune to prosecution.

The Court, presided over by Judge Robert Scola, gave the United States government the green light to continue with processes that would see Alex Saab extradited from Cape Verde.

However, the Venezuelan envoy to Iran believes that the Court committed an error in its ruling.

Alex Saab maintains that his arrest and attempts by US authorities to prosecute him are against international laws as his status as a diplomat renders him immune to such actions.

The US says that it does not consider Alex Saab as a diplomat – a position his lawyer, David Rivkin, describes as absurd.

Mr. Rivkin says that the US government’s attempt to be a judge of who to confer diplomatic statuses on is in violation of the sovereign dignity of other countries.

In a Wednesday call with Law360, Mr. Rivkin explained that:

“The State Department does not, and practicably, cannot maintain a registry of all the foreign diplomats in the world. Doing so would violate the sovereign dignity of other countries. If France wants to send someone to Berlin, you don’t ask the State Department for approval – it’s absurd,” Mr. Rivkin said during a Wednesday call with Law360.

Alex Saab, in his opening statements in a case filed at the US Appeals Court, opposed Judge Scola’s description of him as a fugitive.

Mr. Saab argued that he was not in the US when the government charged him for alleged criminal activities.

He explained that his decision to not collaborate with US authorities was based on instructions from the Venezuelan government.

The special envoy insists that his immunity status must be considered amidst the US government’s desire to prosecute Mr. Saab.

The US Department of Justice says that Alex Saab was part of a bribery and money laundering scheme that allegedly ended up with about $350million stolen from Venezuela.

Mr. Saab has denied these allegations.

“The accusations of money laundering are unfounded, purely political, and artificially built by the authorities to serve political interests,” he told CNN in an earlier interview.

In that same interview, he expressed fears that his extradition to the US will see him subjected to inhumane treatment.

“If I’m extradited to the United States, every independent expert is categoric: I will be exposed to forced interrogation techniques, to torture, poor treatment, an unfair trial, inhuman detention conditions and cruel punishments.”

The Venezuelan government, led by Nicholas Maduro, has told Alex Saab’s defense team to fight extradition to the US at all means possible.

The defense team in Cape Verde are also challenging a decision by the country’s Supreme Court that extradition processes against the Diplomat could continue even though the ECOWAS Court had ruled against it.

Alex Saab lawyers have filed the review at the country’s Constitutional Court and judgement is expected to be handed in the coming weeks.

Written by Talks Ghana Media

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