The leading opposition party in Cape Verde, The African Party of Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) has taken on the ruling party over the arrest and detention of Colombian businessman Alex Saab.
Rui Semedo, the parliamentary leader of the PAICV raised the issue during a parliamentary session earlier this week.
He challenged the ruling party on the continued detention of Alex Saab and expressed regret at the conditions he was subjected to while in prison custody, indicating that it was not befitting of a Venezuelan Diplomat.
“What is the status of the evaluation of this case? What guarantee is being given to this figure,” Rui Semedo quizzed.
He also raised questions about whether the diplomat was receiving the appropriate healthcare, noting that Cape Verde could suffer serious repercussions if it emerges that Mr. Saab health condition has deteriorated due to him being denied access to quality healthcare by the State.
“I leave this questioning because if Mr. Alex Saab has a setback due to lack of care from the Cape
Verde state, we could have very serious problems,” said Rui Semedo.
But the Minister of Internal Administration, Paulo Rocha said he could not offer a detailed response on the matter since most of the decisions were taken by the courts.
“I don’t know why they didn’t ask the courts. He is an individual who is in prison, this has nothing to
do with the government. He was released from prison and put under house arrest, he is under the
custody of the police, who are complying with all judicial determinations,” said Paulo Rocha.
The opposition party was surprised at the response and further queried the minister on whether that was how casually he would have taken the issue if the opposition was in power.
Cape Verde is scheduled to go to the polls in March 2021 and the issue of Alex Saab’s detension has come up strongly amongst the issues that will affect the polls.
Alex Saab, 49, has been in Cape Verde since June 2020 when he was arrested by Cape Verde police on the orders of the US when his private plane stopped to refuel en route to Iran on official duties for the Venezuelan government.
Venezuela is against the action, indicating that he is a diplomat.
Lawyers for Alex Saab have been fighting to stop the extradition order which the Cape Verde government has already accepted but has not executed yet due to the ongoing court proceedings.
After bouts of legal tussles, lawyers for Mr. Saab succeeded in getting him to be released from prison custody to be held under house arrest.
Among the arguments advanced by the lawyers, they said Mr. Saab urgently needed medical attention which he had not been provided with in prison.
Although it took some days to for local authorities to comply with the court ruling for his release from prison, his lawyers lauded the move but had cause to complain after the lead counsel was denied access to Mr. Saab.
The team have subsequently written letters to the office of the Cape Verde prime minister and police chief to formally complain about the denial of access to Mr. Saab.
The ECOWAS court is yet to deliver a final judgement on whether the US’ extradition request to Cape Verde should be accepted.