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‘Flight risk’ Teves under house arrest

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A Court of Appeals in Timor-Leste on Thursday placed former Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo ‘Arnie’ Teves, Jr. under house arrest, after it deemed the extraditee to be a “flight risk.”

Timor-Leste media agency reported that the appeals court issued a “Warrant Of Conduct Under House Arrest” against Teves after finding that he has the financial capability to leave the country.

When sought for comment and update on Teves’ extradition case, the Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed that he was indeed placed under house arrest, citing information provided by the Prosecutor General Office of Timor-Leste.

“The Prosecutor General’s Office of Timor-Leste has officially placed former House Representative Arnie Teves under house arrest,” the DOJ said, in a text message.

The justice department noted that the fugitive politician “will be under 24-hour security with only family members permitted to visit him.”

“The government will maintain close oversight of the situation to ensure that all procedures are both valid and appropriate,” the DOJ added.

Justice Undersecretary Raul Vasquez further stated that regardless whether he is in custody, rearrested, or house arrest, Teves is under the control of the police authorities. “Simply put, he is deprived of liberty,” he said.

Teves’ legal counsel, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, simply described Teves situation as “he is no longer in jail.”

The court noted that the former legislator is facing multiple murder charges in the Philippines and that he came to Timor-Leste by private plane in April 2023.

It said that Teves lives in a rented house with a monthly rent of $10,000 with his wife and two children and has more than 20 employees, 10 of which were Filipino and 10 of which were Timorese.

The court also noted that he is working as a partner of a construction firm, whose owner gave him financial support.

“Given the facts above, it is concluded that the risk of flight persists for the extraditee, especially since he has the financial means to leave Timor-Leste,” the Court said.

According to the Court, flight risk is mitigated by applying the Coercive Measure of House Arrest as provided for under Timor Leste’s laws.

“I order… the arrested individual below named is to be taken to House Arrest at his residence to await further extradition proceedings,” court ruling stated.

The appeals court also found Teves’ detention to be valid as it was carried out following a detention warrant issued by a judge.

Teves is facing multiple murder charges for the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and others at the home of the then-governor on March 4, 2023. Teves repeatedly denied the allegations.

He was arrested in Dili, Timor Leste while playing golf based on the Interpol red notice issued against him in February.

Aside from the murder of Degamo, Teves and others have also been charged with the deaths of three individuals in Negros Oriental in 2019. He also denied involvement in those charges.

Teves and 12 others have also been designated as terrorists by the Anti-Terrorism Council, citing several alleged killings and harassment in Negros Oriental. In early February, a Manila Court ordered the cancellation of his passport.

The legislator was expelled by the House of Representatives in August last year for disorderly conduct and continued absence despite an expired travel authority.


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