The 11th circuit court of appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, delayed the decision on the diplomatic immunity of the Venezuelan ambassador Alex Saab Morán, kidnapped in the United States, and now it will be back in the hands of Judge Robert Scola, who did not ignore it in the first instance, which could lead to a new appeal by the official’s defense team.
According to a statement from the court of appeals, “the district court did not address whether Saab Morán is a foreign diplomat and immune from prosecution,” so they declined the invitation from the legal team to “decide that question in the first instance (… ) since we are a court of review, not a court of first sight, and the determination of whether a person is a foreign diplomatic official is a mixed question of fact and law”, they allege.
“Here the parties did not have an opportunity to fully develop the record, and the district court did not have an opportunity to weigh the evidence, in relation to Saab Moran’s claim that he is immune from prosecution because he is a foreign diplomat. Therefore, we are ‘misplaced to decide this mixed question of fact and law in the first instance’ (…) For all these reasons, we vacate the order of the district court as moot and remand the case to the district court”, concludes the document.
In this sense, for the defense, the collusion of the US jurisdictional bodies and a procedural subversion are evident, since the appeal did not reach the court for the second degree of jurisdiction and the right to have a second instance examine, but because of the doctrine of collateral orders, since Judge Scola had not decided at the time to try to prosecute Saab in an ordinary manner, knowing that diplomatic immunity is a procedural exception that makes the Special Envoy immune from criminal responsibility.
On April 6, Saab’s team of lawyers, headed by David Rivkinm, presented oral arguments on the diplomatic immunity of the Special Envoy of Venezuela before the Atlanta appeals court.
Rivkin, in charge of the case in the US, assured that Alex Saab “cannot be prosecuted or persecuted in any way” because this would affect “the viability of the international system. This requires absolute inviolability of ambassadors and special envoys”, predicting “good results in the recognition of diplomatic immunity” of the official, as well as his “immediate release”.
The accreditation of the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, dated April 9, 2018, allowed Alex “to take steps in favor of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, aimed at guaranteeing the commercial and humanitarian procurement of essential goods and services (…)”, making clear its diplomatic nature.