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Timor Leste releases Teves pending extradition trial—Topacio

Photo Courtesy: Atty. Ferdinand Topacio
Rey E. Requejo

Former Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. has been released from preventive detention in Timor-Leste, his lawyer Ferdinand Topacio confirmed on Monday.

In an official statement released to the media, Topacio said he was informed by his counterparts in East Timor that his client was freed from temporary imprisonment because the Department of Justice (DOJ) “screwed up.”

“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. In other words, our government ‘screwed up’. Thus, his (Teves’) imprisonment was declared illegal,” Topacio said.

Topacio, meanwhile, said his client will remain in Timor-Leste to undergo judicial proceedings, which will start on Tuesday (June 11), according to CRA Law Office and Dr. Jose Ximenez.

“He (Teves) 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,” Topacio added.

Teves was arrested while playing golf in March this year and was detained at Becora Prison in Dili, Timor-Leste. He was apprehended after the International Criminal Police (Interpol) issued a red notice against him.

Law enforcement authorities have been hunting Teves for allegedly plotting the murder of his political rival, the late Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, and nine others.

Teves left the country and traveled to East Timor, where he has been seeking political asylum.

The DOJ has yet to make an official response to this development. “Allow me to check with TL (Timor-Leste) side. This is quite improbable,” Justice Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jose Dominic Clavano IV told reporters when sought for initial comment.

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