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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Teves freed, re-arrested

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DOJ raps Topacio for ‘misleading, irresponsible‘ report

The Department of Justice said expelled Negros Oriental congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr. was rearrested after he was briefly released from preventive detention in Timor-Leste.

The DOJ belied the release claim of Teves’ legal counsel, saying the former lawmaker was mmediately placed under the custody of the Polícia Nacional of Timor Leste (PNTL).

“Rep. Arnolfo Teves was released from preventive detention pending his extradition trial, my Timor Leste counterparts inform me, because the request for extradition by the Philippine Government was made out of time and in a manner that is not sanctioned by practice and customary international law,” lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said in a statement.

DOJ spokesperson Jose Dominic Clavano IV

Teves was earlier tagged as the alleged mastermind behind the killing of political rival Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and nine others, for which he is currently facing multiple murder charges.

Justice Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Jose Dominic Clavano IV clarified that “the release and subsequent re-arrest of the former congressman from prison to the Polícia Nacional of Timor Leste is part of the country’s process.”

Clavano said the DOJ “was able to submit all requirements ahead of time and in a manner fully compliant with Timor Leste’s law.”

“Thus, the statements of Atty. Topacio are misleading, highly irresponsible and an insult to both countries. He ought to know that while he owes fealty to his client, he remains an officer of the court and must act accordingly to maintain its majesty and integrity,” Clavano said.

“The Department is confident that the extradition proceedings will be successful. In addition, the former congressman may also still be deported depending on the direction taken by the Timor Leste government in coordination with the Philippines.”

“His release and subsequent re-arrest should not be taken as hindrance to the process but simply a part of it. We appreciate the steps currently being undertaken by the Timor Leste government to remove him from their territory and we eagerly anticipate his return to the Philippines so he can face the multiple murder charges,” Clavano added.

Topacio earlier in the day said that with his client released, “Teves’ imprisonment was declared illegal.”

“In other words, our government ‘screwed up,’” Teves’ lawyer said.

“According to CRA Law Office and Dr. Jose Ximenez, there are still judicial proceedings that Rep. Teves will have to undergo relating to his continued stay in TL (Timor-Leste) which will start tomorrow (June 11), and he will be present therein, together with witnesses in his favor, including former Human Rights Commissioner Wilhelm Soriano, who will be presented as an expert in human rights,” said Topacio, who cited the law firm hired by Teves in Timor-Leste.

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

On Feb. 5, 2024, the Manila Regional Trial Court issued an order directing the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to cancel Teves’ passport.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline “DOJ says Topacio report misleading, Teves rearrested per Timor Leste judicial process.”

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