Lawyer says ex-congressman Teves released from jail in Timor-Leste

Expelled Negros Oriental congressman Arnolfo A. Teves Jr. has been released from preventive detention in Timor-Leste, his lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said on Monday, June 10.

"Rep. Arnolfo Teves was released from preventive detention pending his extradition trial, my Timor Leste (TL) 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,” Topacio said in a statement. 

“In other words, our government 'screwed up,'” he claimed.  

Because of the release, Topacio said said “Teves' imprisonment was declared illegal.” 

“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 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.

A check with the Department of Justice (DOJ) showed that its officials are still confirming the report on Teves' release.

“Allow me to check with TL (Timor-Leste) side. This is quite improbable,” DOJ Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jose Dominic F. Clavano IV told journalists. 

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

Last Sept. 5, 2023, the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 51 issued an arrest warrant against Teves who was charged with multiple murder and other charges over the March 4, 2023 shootings in Pamplona, Negros Oriental where 10 persons were killed including provincial governor Roel Degamo.

Later on Feb. 5, 2024, the Manila RTC issued an order directing the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to cancel Teves' passport.