Teves is in custody, not detained – lawyer
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Teves is in custody, not detained – lawyer

MANILA, Philippines – Expelled lawmaker Arnolfo Teves Jr. he was placed in “judicial custody” and was not re-arrested after his “temporary release”, according to lawyer Ferdinando Topacio.

Topacio made the disclosure a day after his client was fired over “errors” in the Philippine government’s request for the extradition of the expelled parliamentarian, which the Justice Department had requested as part of the East Timorese government’s due process process.

According to Topacio, Teves is only in custody and not in prison because he has not been “arrested again.”

“He has not been arrested again for any crime. He was arrested again not because of the crimes he allegedly committed in the Philippines, but because of the extradition process, which is a special civil procedure,” Topacio said during an online press conference with reporters on Tuesday.

Topacio also revealed that Teves was released for a “significant amount of time” before he was placed back in custody.

“Nakadaan pa kami sa chapel para manalangin, nakapunta residence pa kami sa kanyang przy para imeet ‘yung kanyang mga kaanak,” Topacio said.

(We could stop at the chapel to pray and we also went to his residence to meet his loved ones.)

Teves’ lawyer also said he and others would testify on Teves’ behalf before the Timor-Leste Recurso Tribunal or the country’s Court of Appeal (CA), where Teves’ extradition case will be heard.

In addition to him, Topacio said that other people testifying for Teves included former human rights commissioner Wilhelm Soriano and former presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.

Teves’ case came before the East Timor Court of Appeal on May 30, after a positive review by the country’s Ministry of Justice.

According to the Department of Justice, a decision on this matter is to be made no later than June 20, 2024.

In a separate statement, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla praised East Timor for re-detaining Teves.

“We express our deepest gratitude to the Government of Timor-Leste for its unwavering cooperation. “This re-arrest underscores the strong partnership between our nations and our collective commitment to eliminating impunity, regardless of social status and influence,” Remulla’s statement read.

“We assure the public and the international community that all legal procedures will be strictly followed and Mr. Teves’ human rights will be respected throughout the process,” he added.

Teves faces multiple criminal charges in connection with the attack that led to the March 2023 death of former Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

The defended lawmaker also faces several other charges related to a series of murders that took place in 2019.