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Monday, December 05, 2022

US asks not to allow video witnesses in Saab case

MIAMI ( Associated Press) – The United States government asked a federal judge on Monday not to allow Venezuelan video statements of witnesses that Colombian businessman Alex Saab seeks to summon in an effort to show that he acted as a diplomat. and therefore cannot be prosecuted for money laundering.

In a six-page document that appears in an online electronic file, prosecutors allege that Saab has made “minimal efforts” so that witnesses can come to the United States to testify in person, and to ensure proper security measures. For “no effort”. Guarantee the integrity of the testimony of these witnesses.

“Therefore the United States opposes the motion by Saab and requests the court to reject the motion,” prosecutors said in the document presented to Judge Robert Scola.

Washington believes Saab has been a key figure for Maduro and accuses him of amassing more than $350 million in assets through businesses he bribed Nicolás Maduro’s government and housing construction. Documents to get the contract must have been received after wrongly giving them. ,

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The prosecution’s request comes after Saab on Friday asked the same judge to allow him to produce at least two video witnesses in the October 31 hearing on his alleged diplomatic immunity.

The businessman alleges that he cannot be prosecuted because he was working as a Venezuelan diplomat en route to a humanitarian mission in Iran when his plane was intercepted in Cape Verde while stopping for refueling. The United States rejects that position.

In his motion, Saab’s defense did not identify the witnesses, but stated that one of them, whom he called VZ Witness 1, is a member of the Venezuelan National Guard and the other, whom he called VZ Witness 2, is a Venezuelan officer. He said he would offer their names before October 17.

Lawyers said no witnesses could appear in person because US visa appointments require an interview at the US embassy in Colombia, which would not be in time for the hearing. Furthermore, he alleged, none of them have the COVID-19 vaccines the US government needs to enter their territory.

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The prosecution, however, said that none of the five witnesses Saab initially told him that he would try to present were VZ Witness 1 or VZ Witness 2. Furthermore, he said, neither of Saab’s lawyers provided details about meetings at the Saab embassy. About Bogotá, or vaccines.

Another reason the prosecution cited for asking the judge to decline the video testimony, Saab did not offer information about where those witnesses would be, to guarantee that they would be present at the time of deposition. whether it is not compelled or not under it. Any kind of effect, or how the court will be assured that the witnesses are voluntarily giving their testimony.

Saab has said they are two “very important” witnesses to “ensure a fair and equitable administration of the law”.

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