The Department of Justice considers that the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, based in Atlanta, lacks "jurisdiction" to respond to a ruling by a Miami judge that classified the Colombian businessman as a "fugitive from justice in the United States."
The United States Attorney's Office asked to dismiss an appeal by Colombian businessman Alex Saab, alleged frontman of Nicolás Maduro, who has been detained in Cape Verde for more than a year due to a money laundering case opened against him in a Miami court.
The Department of Justice considers that the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, based in Atlanta (Georgia), lacks "jurisdiction" to deal with the appeal presented by Saab's defense to a ruling by a Miami judge that qualifies it as "fugitive from justice in the United States."
"This court must dismiss Saab's appeal for lack of jurisdiction," says the document from the Prosecutor's Office, to which the EFE agency had access.
On April 1, Saab's defense requested "to annul the order that confers him the status of a fugitive," according to court documents to which EFE had access this Wednesday.
Based on a previous case, the Prosecutor's Office held that the court "lacked jurisdiction to review an order from a district court granting fugitive status to a criminal defendant," among others because the court's order "is not a final decision" or an immediately appealable "collateral order."
For its part, Saab's defense insists that the Atlanta court does have jurisdiction over the appeal, in a document it presented this month to said court. "This court has jurisdiction over an order that effectively denies diplomatic immunity and should consider this appeal," the defense said.
Saab has been detained in Cape Verde since June 2020, and his extradition to the United States was approved on March 17 by the Supreme Court of that West African island country.
Last March, Judge Robert N. Scola of a Miami court where he is facing conspiracy charges to launder money rejected a request from the Colombian to modify Saab's status as a fugitive from justice.
Saab's defense also asked to respond to the accusations of the United States Attorney's Office without setting foot in the country, which Judge Scola also denied.
The judge said at the time that Sab Moran could not face his fugitive condition and the charges against him unless he was physically present in the jurisdiction.
Saab, which appealed the entire Scola ruling, is accused in the United States of conspiring to launder money and laundering financial instruments, as is his right-hand man, Álvaro Enrique Pulido, also a Colombian.
"Saab Moran is a fugitive," insisted the judge in last March's ruling. He explained that the defendant is a fugitive "if he deliberately escapes, escapes or avoids arrest by being absent from jurisdiction."
Saab is being held in Cape Verde based on an arrest warrant for extradition requested by the United States.
According to the indictment, Saab and Pulido laundered up to $ 350 million that they allegedly defrauded through the exchange control system in Venezuela.
According to the US Department of Justice, between November 2011 and September 2015, Saab and Pulido conspired with other individuals to launder their illicit earnings and transfer them from Venezuela to bank accounts in the US, which is why Washington claims to have jurisdiction in the US.