The special representative of the White House for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, affirmed that if the Colombian businessman Alex Saab, detained in Cape Verde, is extradited to the United States, “he will have a fair and impartial trial.”
In declarations to the Spanish newspaper ABC, Abrams maintained that Saab has the opportunity to defend himself from the serious accusations against him, “with all the protections afforded to him by the American justice system, a system, which like that of Cape Verde, is independent.”
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Saab has been under arrest in Cape Verde since June after his private jet stopped there to fuel while he was coming from Venezuela to Iran. The US had issued two Interpol warrants against him, accusing him of the crimes of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Born in the Colombian city of Barranquilla, Alex Saab has been doing business with Venezuela since 2011, when he signed a deal with the former president, Hugo Chavez, to build affordable housing in a televised event. That event was attended by the Chavez eventual successor, Nicolas Maduro.
Between 2011 and his arrest, Saab, through his companies, Group Grand Limited and Fondo Global de Construccion, also became involved in another US-denounced scheme, the CLAP subsidized food boxes.
A US government official indicated in July 2019 that with the CLAP scheme, destined for vulnerable Venezuelan sectors, the Colombian businessman and three stepchildren of Maduro made “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Elliot also mentioned the declarations of one of the Saab lawyers about the alleged pressures of his government to the businessman cause. “The aggressive campaign of lies and disinformation that Saab and the Maduro regime have mounted in their media and social networks in an attempt to influence the judicial process and the public opinion in Cape Verde.”
“Despite this political pressure, we have faith and confidence in the integrity of the Cape Verdean judicial system, and we hope that justice will be done,” said Abrams.
The head of US diplomacy for Venezuela explained that Saab and its defense team still have several resources left before the extradition order becomes final.
“For the time being, the strategy of Garzón has been to challenge the process for considering it illegal, accusing the US of political persecution. But, according to US government sources, Saab is already trying to hire a Florida lawyer to represent him,” Abrams added.
In the US, Saab is facing money-laundering accusations. The US authorities are also investigating his role in illegal occupation of assets, gold, and oil trafficking, and humanitarian aid fraud, ABC revealed last week.