Cape Verde's supreme court on Wednesday said it had ratified the extradition to the United States of a businessman who is close to Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and accused by Washington of fraud.
The decision comes two days after the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ordered Cape Verde to free Colombian Alex Saab.
But the supreme court said Cape Verde has not "signed the protocol granting legitimacy to the ECOWAS court" and hence its "decisions do not apply in Cape Verde."
The 49-year-old, who was first detained in the West African island state in June 2020, is wanted in Miami over allegations he ran a fraud network allowing Venezuela's rulers to profit from food aid destined for the country.
Supreme court judges decided to "confirm the legal authorisation for the extradition of the accused to the United States" in a decision dated on Tuesday but released on Wednesday.
Saab's defence said it was "currently studying the decision" and would soon appeal to the country's constitutional court.
"We reaffirm our confidence that the ambassador Saab will be freed," said the defence lawyers.
Venezuela's opposition has described Saab as a "front man" for the populist socialist regime.
Saab was arrested when a plane he was travelling on stopped over in Cape Verde. Two months later his extradition was approved by a lower court.
Saab and his business partner Alvaro Pulido have been charged in the US with moving some $350 million out of Venezuela either to the United States or through the US to foreign accounts.
If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison. Pulido's whereabouts are unknown.
Venezuela's government, which granted Saab nationality and has given him diplomatic status as a special envoy, has called the arrest "arbitrary" and claims he is suffering "mistreatment and torture" at the hands of the Cape Verde authorities.
Cape Verde's government has not commented on the case.