Teves under legal custody, clarifies lawyer

Expelled lawmaker Arnolfo Teves Jr. was put under “court custody” and was not re-arrested after his “provisional release,” as confirmed by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio.

Topacio disclosed this information a day following his client’s release due to “missteps” in the Philippine government’s extradition request for the expelled lawmaker, which was deemed part of the due process by the Department of Justice of Timor-Leste.

Teves is currently in a holding area and not a prison, clarified Topacio, emphasizing that he was not re-arrested for any crime committed in the Philippines but for the extradition process, which is considered a special civil procedure.

Furthermore, Topacio mentioned that Teves had been released for a substantial period before being taken back into custody, sharing that they had even stopped by a chapel to pray and visited his residence to meet his relatives.

Teves’ legal counsel disclosed that he, along with other individuals such as former Human Rights Commissioner Wilhelm Soriano and former presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, are testifying for Teves at Timor-Leste’s Court of Appeals (CA), where his extradition case will be heard.

The case of Teves progressed to Timor-Leste’s Court of Appeals on May 30 after passing the initial review by the country’s Ministry of Justice.

The Department of Justice stated that a decision on the case is anticipated by June 20, 2024. Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla commended Timor-Leste for re-apprehending Teves in a separate statement, expressing gratitude for their cooperation and partnership in eradicating impunity.

Teves is currently facing multiple criminal charges related to the incident that resulted in the death of former Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo in March 2023, as well as other charges connected to a series of killings in 2019.

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