Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, was extradited on Saturday October 16 to the United States from Cape Verde where he had been arrested, reported to Agence France-Presse ( AFP) a source within its legal team.
The Venezuelan power did not take long to rule and “Suspended his participation” the dialogue with the opposition which was to continue on Sunday in Mexico City.
“We will not attend the [quatrième] round which was to begin tomorrow, October 17, in protest to the brutal aggression (…) against Alex Saab ”, according to the text read on television by the President of Parliament Jorge Rodriguez, head of the delegation of power.
Mr. Saab had been appointed as a member of the delegation of power for the previous round in September. Venezuela said on Saturday that this “Ambassador” had been “Removed” by the United States.
Initiated in August, the negotiations between the emissaries of Nicolas Maduro and those of the main opposition parties, brought together for the occasion under the label of Unitary Platform, aim to find a way out of the dramatic political and economic crisis. that crosses the country.
Opposition and Colombia rejoice
Alex Saab and his partner Alvaro Pulido are accused in the United States of being at the head of a vast network which allowed the socialist leader Nicolas Maduro and his regime to divert food aid to Venezuela for their benefit.
Suspected of having transferred some 350 million dollars (about 302 million euros) from Venezuela to accounts they controlled in the United States and other countries, they risk up to 20 years in prison.
Alex Saab, who also has Venezuelan nationality and a Venezuelan diplomatic passport, was indicted in July 2019 in Miami for money laundering and arrested during a plane stopover in Cape Verde, off the coast of Africa. west, in June 2020. His extradition seemed inevitable after yet another court decision on September 7 and more than two years of proceedings.
Opponent Julio Borges told AFP that with extradition begins “Bringing to justice someone who stole millions of dollars from Venezuelans, who is directly responsible for hunger and the humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela.
Colombian President Ivan Duque, one of Caracas’ main political opponents, welcomed the news. “The extradition of Alex Saab is a victory in the fight against drug trafficking, money laundering and corruption that the dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has fostered, a tweeted Duque. Colombia has supported and will continue to support the United States in the investigation into the transnational crime network led by Saab. “