By Kristi Pelzel
One year after Alex Saab’s detention, the Attorney General admitted that the arrest warrant attached to the extradition request from the U.S. of 29 June 2020, which serves as the basis for Alex Saab’s extradition, was in the name of …. someone else.
In his counter arguments to the Constitutional Court, the Prosecutor General requested the rectification in the following terms “it was mentioned that there is an international arrest warrant against the applicant issued by the judiciary authorities of the USA. At this point we take this opportunity to request the rectification of the manifest error consisting in the attachment of the warrant in the name of Álvaro Enrique Pulido-Vargas”. The Prosecutor General further explains that warrants were issued in the names of Alex Saab and Álvaro Enrique Pulido-Vargas, but “by mistake, in the extradition request sent to Cape Verde, the requesting state annexed the first page of the original warrant in the name of Álvaro Enrique Pulido-Vargas, … but the following pages of the warrant and the translations into Portuguese and Spanish are in the name of Alex Saab”.
What is certain and what is proven is that on 12 June when Alex Saab was arrested he was not presented with a Red Notice and could not have been as it was only issued later after the arrest. Furthermore, the Red Notice against Alex Saab did not contain the arrest warrant and was issued in breach of INTERPOL own Rules of Processing Data (IRPD) which require “reference to a valid arrest warrant” as per Article 83 (2) (v) about minimal data required for publication of Red Notices. It is not surprising as the Director of the Office of Legal Affairs of INTERPOL (who processes requests for publications of INTERPOL Notices) is Mary D. Rodriguez, an American who was seconded from the U.S. Department of Justice, same organization which is prosecuting and persecuting Alex Saab.
Venezuela successfully challenged the illegality of the Red Notice which was cancelled on 25 June 2020. This fact along with the request for release were immediately communicated to Cape Verdean Prosecutor General,Minister of Justice, Barlavento Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Justice. But so far to no avail.
On what basis Cape Verde continued to detain Alex Saab?
On 29 June the United States submitted its extradition request to Cape Verde. It contained the arrest warrant in the wrong name, not Alex Saab. Same Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General approved the extradition request despite all screaming factual and legal evidence against it. These facts were relevant for the ECOWAS Court in its decision to consider the detention illegal.
The defense of Ambassador Saab reported the absence of the arrest warrant on numerous occasions to the Cape Verdean judicial and law enforcement authorities. To no avail.
Alex Saab has been arrested, detained illegally and must be released immediately. His extradition must be cancelled. The law has been blatantly violated by the United States and Cape Verde which was confirmed by honourable justices of the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
Kristi Pelzel is a journalist in Washington DC and Adjunct Faculty at Southern New Hampshire University.