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Saturday, July 13, 2024

DOJ confident Timor-Leste will deny Teves’ appeal on extradition

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) expressed optimism Friday on the denial of the appeal that fugitive and expelled Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. intends to file following the extradition order issued by Timor-Leste’s Court of Appeals against him.

“We are very confident that the same decision would be rendered in the motion for reconsideration or the appeal would be denied in due course by the Timor-Leste judicial authorities,” DOJ Undersecretary Raul Vasquez said during a press conference.

Vasquez pointed this out after lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, the legal counsel Teves, bared plans to appeal the June 27 decision of the Court of Appeals of Timor-Leste that granted the request of the Philippines to have the expelled congressman extradited.

Vasquez stressed the lawyers of Teves can only file a motion for reconsideration on the decision of the Court of Appeals since Timor-Leste, which only achieved independence from Indonesia in 2002, has yet to fully establish a Supreme Court where the appeal on the extradition decision could be filed.

“They have a period of appeal of 30 days,” said Vasquez, who cited Timor-Leste laws.

Contrary to the claims of Topacio, Vasquez said Teves can no longer seek political asylum in Timor-Leste.

“‘Political asylum was the first recourse that was availed of (by) former congressman Arnie Teves. This was denied. They filed a motion for reconsideration. This was denied as well. So, to our minds, as lawyers, that is the end of the rope on that particular aspect,” the DOJ official said.

Though the Court of Appeals of Timor-Leste released Teves from house arrest last week, Vasquez said the expelled legislator could still be re-arrested by local authorities.

“As far as we could see it, he could be arrested as an undocumented alien,” he said.

He reminded that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has already canceled the passport of Teves upon the order of Judge Merianthe Pacita Zuraek of Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 51, which is handling case against the former congressman and co-accused over their alleged involvement in the March 4, 2023 shootings in Pamplona, Negros Oriental, where provincial governor Roel Degamo and nine other persons were killed.

Meanwhile, Vasquez said the government is preparing for the eventual return of Teves to the Philippines, but declined to reveal details where the expelled congressman could be detained.

He assured that “it is incumbent upon the government to ensure that no harm would befall on former congressman Teves.”

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