About a dozen vehicles, between small buses and motorcycles, took part in a demonstration Sunday. Their cause? Freedom for Alex Saab, the Colombian businessman imprisoned for allegedly being the top money launderer for the Nicolas Maduro regime.
You must read The mark of Alex Saab is all over the Vargas state
On June 12, 2020, a small private jet carrying Saab,49, from Venezuela touched for fuel in Cape Verde: Saab has not left the island since. He was charged in July 2019 with laundering money under a kickback scheme, transferring some $350 million out of Venezuela to offshore accounts. US college professor and money-laundering expert Bruce Bagley is already serving a 10-year sentence linked with the case, as he told a US court that the Colombian businessman gave him a couple of million dollars to launder.
The regime has implemented several strategies trying to secure Saab freedom, and here El Pitazo explains what some of them were. However, appeals to the Cape Verde government, humanitarian requests based on his health, granting him Venezuelan nationality, a diplomatic service passport, and the appointment as Venezuela representative to the African Union are attempts that have all failed in securing the release of Saab.
You must read The US accuses Alex Saab of laundering more than $362 million
In January, however, he was remanded from a Cape Verde prison to house arrest in the island nation, which some analysts see as a Maduro victory.
- June 12: Cape Verde arrested Alex Saab by a red alert to Interpol issued by the United States.
- June 13: Maduro’s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, identifies Saab as a Venezuelan national agent, a special envoy trying to get food for Venezuelans, and says Saab has a Venezuelan diplomatic service passport. Cape Verde retorts: the prisoner only had a Colombian ID passport when he got arrested.
- July 2020: Lawyers presented their legal opposition to the extradition of Alex Saab. The defense introduced a document of approximately 60 pages, detailed and legally consistent. Garzon is a prominent former Spanish judge, stripped of his bench for prevarication, barred from exercising law for several years by Spanish authorities as part of his sentence.
- September 9: Arreaza says Saab is being tortured in Cape Verde. While Colombia has yet to extend the prisoner cooperation, Arreaza demanded that Saab be allowed visits by a forensic doctor, an attorney from Venezuelan Public Prosecutor Office, and the Venezuelan ambassador to Cape Verde.
- October: The Maduro regime request a humanitarian measure to protect the life of Alex Saab.
- December 3: The Court of Justice of the Community of West African States approved the house arrest of the Colombian businessman, according to information of Garzon. Cape Verde initially rejects the request.
- Mid-December: The Maduro regime keeps up a campaign to request house arrest for Saab.
- December 30: The Maduro regime designates Saab as his alternate permanent representative before the African Union. Colombian newspaper El Tiempo runs a story saying the appointment means Saab had no prior diplomatic status, as previously argued by the Maduro regime. Saab’s defense does not see it that way. “The accreditation before the African Union is important due to the position of that organization on the immunity of heads of state and other high officials,” points out Rutsel Martha, Saab’s lawyer, in a document revealed by El Tiempo. Critics say the designation is not only suspicious, but it is not retroactive.
- January 21: Saab is granted house arrest after weeks of campaigning by the Maduro regime for that cause.