The defense of Colombian businessman Alex Saab assures that federal prosecutors are delaying the trial of the alleged figurehead of Nicolás Maduro to achieve cooperation. This is because, according to Saab’s lawyers, they will not be able to dismantle the diplomatic immunity that protects it.
Nancy Hollander, of the defense team, alleged that they have tried to force Saab to confess, even while he was in a cell in Cape Verde. Where he pointed out that “he was tortured” to extract information from him, according to El Nuevo Herald.
“Why would the Justice Department do this, when they knew they were going to lose? I think what they wanted was to get information from Mr. Saab. And they wanted him to provide information about the Maduro government that they could use” to favor the opposition, he said.
He added that Alex Saab “is not going to cooperate. He is a strong man, and the government failed in its efforts in Cape Verde and it will not succeed in the United States.”
The Colombian businessman, extradited in October from Cape Verde, faces charges for money laundering from corruption in Venezuela.
His case is being handled by the federal prosecutor’s office in Miami, the city where Saab is imprisoned. However, before the trial begins, the Eleventh Federal Court of Appeals in Atlanta must rule on the appeal filed by the businessman’s defense. In which they allege that he cannot be prosecuted due to his diplomatic immunity.
Alex Saab’s defense alleges that US prosecutors will not be able to dismiss diplomatic immunity
Attorney David Rivkin, involved in the appeals court defense, said prosecutors were unsure about the argument that Saab did not enjoy immunity.
“You can read the reports and feel what level of trust it underlines. So far the arguments are not among the strongest,” he said.
“It is enormously important to the interests of the United States that the principle of diplomatic immunity be respected. Because the United States as a world power is the one that has more special envoys than the whole world,” Rivkin added.
Nicolás Maduro appointed Alex Saab as special envoy to Iran, so since he was in Cape Verde they urged his release.
For many Venezuelans, however, the argument against Saab’s immunity makes sense, given that the US government does not recognize Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela. So his actions would have no validity. But Rivkin emphasized that the United States recognizes some Maduro officials when it suits it.