Leviste to plead not guilty in sentence evasion case
- Aie Balagtas See () - August 9, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Former Batangas governor and homicide convict Antonio Leviste is expected to plead not guilty if the Department of Justice (DOJ) pushes through with filing evasion of sentence charges against him, his lawyer said yesterday.

Leviste, after being arrested in his Makati City office in May, admitted that he left the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) compound in Muntinlupa City without seeking permission from jail officials.

“He has no intention to escape,” lawyer Joseph Benedict Gesmundo said in an interview. “For us, evasion of sentence means you have the intention to flee or escape.”

Gesmundo said as far as he is concerned, Leviste should not be criminally charged. Instead, his client should face sanctions based on the guidelines of the Bureau of Corrections.

Leviste, 71, was sentenced to suffer six to 12 years in prison for killing his aide, Rafael de las Alas, in 2007. He could serve an additional six years if found guilty for evasion of sentence.

Leviste used to enjoy sleep out and living out privileges, which means he was allowed to freely roam the 500-hectare NBP reservation.

An ABS-CBN exposè, however, showed Leviste in his office on May 18. The report added that the former governor has slipped out of NBP compound at least three times.

He was supposed to be arraigned on June 10 but this was deferred after his lawyer asked the DOJ to conduct a reinvestigation. His arraignment is temporarily scheduled on Aug. 26 depending on the DOJ resolution, Gesmundo said.

ANTONIO LEVISTE BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FORMER BATANGAS GESMUNDO JOSEPH BENEDICT GESMUNDO LEVISTE MAKATI CITY MUNTINLUPA CITY NEW BILIBID PRISONS RAFAEL
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