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A protracted legal battle over the extradition from Cape Verde to the United States of a businessman close to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro comes to a head next week when the West African country’s Constitutional Court is due to rule on the case.

Alex Saab was arrested when his jet made a refueling stop on the small island chain, formerly a Portuguese colony, on a June 2020 flight to Iran.

U.S. officials believe Saab holds numerous secrets about how Maduro, the president’s family and his top aides allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars in government contracts amid widespread hunger in oil-rich Venezuela.

Saab is fighting extradition. His lawyers argue that he has diplomatic immunity because he was acting as a special envoy for Venezuela when he was detained in Cape Verde.

José Pinto Monteiro, Saab’s lead counsel in Cape Verde, said Friday there are two possible outcomes when the Constitutional Court sits on Aug. 13.

Either the judges throw out Saab’s appeal and the extradition goes ahead, or they accept that there are unconstitutional elements in the case and send it back to a lower court to correct them, Pinto Monteiro told a press conference via video link.

Cape Verde’s Supreme Court ruled last March that the extradition could proceed, and the Constitutional Court appeal is Saab’s last hope.

Saab’s international legal team argues that the extradition has a political motive.

Federal prosecutors in Miami indicted Saab in 2019 on money-laundering charges connected to an alleged bribery scheme that pocketed more than $350 million from a low-income housing project for the Venezuelan government that was never built.



President Joe Biden may have averted a flood of evictions and solved a growing political problem when his administration reinstated a temporary ban on evictions because of the COVID-19 crisis. But he left his lawyers with legal arguments that even he acknowledges might not stand up in court.

The new eviction moratorium announced Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could run into opposition at the Supreme Court, where one justice in late June warned the administration not to act further without explicit congressional approval.

Landlords from Alabama whose bid to lift the earlier pause on evictions failed returned to federal court in Washington late Wednesday, asking for an order that would allow evictions to resume.

The administration is counting on differences between the new order, scheduled to last until Oct. 3, and the eviction pause that lapsed over the weekend to bolster its legal case. At the very least, as Biden himself said, the new moratorium will buy some time to protect the estimated 3.6 million Americans who could face eviction from their homes.

Some legal scholars who doubt the new eviction ban will stand up say its legal underpinnings are strikingly similar to the old one.

“Meet the new moratorium, same as the old moratorium!” Ilya Somin, a George Mason University law professor who backed Biden over former President Donald Trump last year, wrote on Reason.com.




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•  National News     updated  2021/07/30 12:43


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A woman convicted in the 1987 kidnapping and death of a northern Illinois businessman has been granted a re-sentencing hearing by the state’s appellate court.

Nancy Rish, 59, petitioned in December 2017 for a resentencing hearing so that the court can consider evidence of domestic violence. Stephen Small of Kankakee suffocated in a plywood box when a breathing tube running to the surface failed before a ransom could be paid.

Her attorneys argued Rish was coerced by ex-boyfriend Daniel Edwards into driving him and that she was unaware of his kidnapping plan even as he had her pick him up from the remote, wooded burial site and drive him between phone booths where he made ransom calls.

The attorneys argued her case is what Illinois legislators had in mind when they passed legislation in 2015 giving abuse victims who had been sentenced to prison for crimes a break on their sentences.

In its ruling Thursday, the court noted the state maintained the trial court’s sentence rested on the “horrific nature of the crime in which (defendant) played an integral part” and that the evidence of domestic violence could not overcome the seriousness of the crime.

“This is the first time in 33½ years that she’s gotten a ruling that may result in her sentence being reduced from natural life,” Margaret Byrne, a private attorney who is representing Rish pro bono, told the Chicago Tribune.

Rish was sentenced to life in prison after a jury trial in 1988. Edwards was convicted and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to a life term by then-Gov. George Ryan as Illinois moved toward ending the death penalty.

Rish, an inmate at Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, has maintained her innocence through more than three decades of legal losses. In July 2019, Kankakee County Judge Michael Sabol rejected Rish’s petition for a re-sentencing, rejecting the argument a new sentence was warranted because of a change in Illinois law.



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