Teves no longer under house arrest in Timor-Leste, says Topacio

Kristine Daguno-Bersamina - Philstar.com
Teves no longer under house arrest in Timor-Leste, says Topacio
Photo released by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio shows him (left) walking with former Negros Oriental congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr. following the latter’s release from preventive detention at the Becora Prison in Dili, Timor-Leste.
Ferdinand Topacio

MANILA, Philippines — Expelled lawmaker Arnolfo Teves Jr. has been released from house arrest in Timor-Leste, according to his legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio.

"We confirm the published reports appearing on Timor-Leste (TL) media—which have reached our country—that Rep. Arnolfo Teves has been ordered released from house arrest by the tribunal conducting extradition proceedings relative to the request made by the Philippine government," Topacio said in a statement on Saturday.

Topacio mentioned that the former Negros Oriental congressman must follow "certain conditions" for his release, such as regularly reporting to a court officer and staying in Timor-Leste while the extradition case is ongoing.

"Otherwise, he has been restored to full liberty in accordance with the order of the TL high court's voiding of the preventive detention order due to defects in the extradition request," the lawyer said.

"This validates our earlier report that Mr. Teves was not 're-arrested', but was simply taken into judicial custody purely for purposes of attending the extradition hearings, and that the release of Mr. Teves from Becora Prison was not 'procedural' as the DOJ (Department of Justice) would have us believe, but a final ruling," he added.

Earlier this week, the DOJ reported that Teves' extradition hearing in Timor-Leste’s Tribunal de Recursos or Court of Appeals, has concluded. A decision is expected by the end of June, as the court requires five days to render a ruling.

Teves was arrested on March 21 by local law enforcers in Timor-Leste after the International Criminal Police or Interpol issued a red notice against him.

On June 13, Teves was placed under house arrest by Timor-Leste’s Tribunal de Recursos as part of extradition proceedings.

Based on a report of a local Timor-Leste news outlet, the former solon will remain under strict security until court proceedings conclude, due to concerns about him being a flight risk.

The Philippines is seeking the extradition of Teves to face multiple charges of murder, frustrated murder and attempted murder related to the March 4, 2023 assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and nine others.

Teves and others have also been charged with the 2019 killings of three individuals in Negros Oriental.

Last year, Teves was designated a “terrorist” and expelled from the House of Representatives for disorderly conduct and continued absence despite an expired travel authority. — with report by Ian Laqui

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