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Africa News of Tuesday, 26 January 2021


Alex Saab finally out of prison, under house arrest – Reports

Alex Saab who has been in a Cape Verdean prison following his arrest on the island in June 2020, is now under house arrest, reports say.

This comes after his application seeking his removal from prison was approved by the Barlavento Court of Appeal. Although the application was reported to have been approved on Friday 22 January 2021, reports suggested he was still kept in prison until around 6 pm, Monday, 25 January 2021.

Mr. Saab, a Colombian businessman linked to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who is wanted by U.S. authorities on charges of money laundering, according to Notícias do Norte, “will be staying in a residence that was already being prepared for this purpose. Security will be maintained by elements of the PNs Intervention Corps and also by elements of private security.”

Saab’s lawyers had on Friday expressed displeasure over his detention after an ECOWAS hearing which, according to reports, was expected to hold for him to be released from prison and put under house arrest did not come off.

Saab was arrested by police in Cape Verde last year on his way to Iran aboard a private jet. According to Times Union, U.S. officials believe Saab holds many secrets about how Maduro, his family, and top aides allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars in government contracts amid widespread hunger in the oil-rich nation.

Venezuela, which said it had given Saab a diplomatic status is of the view that he cannot be extradited to the U.S. because he is their diplomat and was on an assignment for them when he was arrested.

Besides the three countries involved in the case, other African countries also waded into the matter. A group of lawyers including Nigeria's famed human rights lawyer and former president of the West African Bar Association, Femi Falana, earlier this month jointly wrote to the president of Cape Verde, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, to call for Alex Saab's immediate release.

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