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Montevideo, September 25th 2021 - 21:49 UTC

 

 

Maduro's front man to be extradited to the United States; Venezuela complains of an arbitrary ruling

Thursday, September 9th 2021 - 09:06 UTC
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Saab is accused in Miami of managing a vast network for Nicolas Maduro and his government to skim funds from food aid to Venezuela, and laundering them. Saab is accused in Miami of managing a vast network for Nicolas Maduro and his government to skim funds from food aid to Venezuela, and laundering them.

The Constitutional Tribunal from Cape Verde ruled this week that Colombian businessman Alex Saab considered a front man for Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro can be extradited to the United States, where he faces charges of corruption and money laundering.

The decision comes almost a year since the businessman who has Colombian, Venezuelan and British Caribbean island documents was arrested when he landed in his private jet for fuel at the capital of the insular African territory.

Saab is accused in Miami of managing a vast network for Nicolas Maduro and his government to skim funds from food aid to Venezuela, and laundering them.

Last March the Justice Tribunal from the Economic Community of Western African states requested the liberation of Saab, but the Cape Verde tribunal rejected the petition and “confirmed the legal authorization to extradite the accused to the United States”.

But so far it is unknown when Saab will be taken to US territory. Allegedly the US has a week following the ruling to complete the extradition.

“Following the decision of Cape Verde's constitutional tribunal, Saab and Maduro have no more legal resources to impede what is inevitable: justice and the end of impunity”, said Julio Borges a former Venezuelan lawmaker close to opposition leader Juan Guaidó

“This opens the door to make justice to someone who has become rich on the hunger and misery of Venezuelans, and who became the artifice of corruption and crimes which help sustain Maduro and his cronies”.

With his partner Alvaro Pulido, also accused of money laundering, Saab is believed to have transferred some 350 million dollars out of Venezuela into foreign accounts in his name or under his control.

Maduro who supplied Saab with Venezuelan documents and diplomatic support said the sentencing was “arbitrary”. The Venezuelan opposition argues Saab is a front man for Maduro and his family. However in Caracas graffiti in walls calls for the “liberation of diplomat Alex Saab”, while the foreign ministry has made multiple protests demanding his immediate release, calling the whole operation a kidnap.

“There is much fear in Venezuela not only for revealing how the corruption system works, but also where the money is, and besides he was the middleman in many deals of the Maduro regime with allied countries, and certainly this gentleman masters much information”, according to the news site Armando.info, which has followed for years Saab's financial adventures.

“Never before have the Chavistas invested so much time and attention in trying to convince Cape Verde that Saab has diplomatic immunity”.

Venezuela's former Attorney General and now in exile Luisa Ortega has identified Saab as “the main frontman of the Maduro regime and his family” and said she has evidence of the businessman's dealings.

Since his arrest almost a year ago the legal team supporting Saab claims he has been submitted to physical and psychological tortures, that he has lost weight and is suffering from poor eyesight, and last but not least his “life in Miami will be greatly endangered”.

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