Department of Justice

Arnie Teves now under house arrest in Timor-Leste, says DOJ

Jairo Bolledo

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Arnie Teves now under house arrest in Timor-Leste, says DOJ

UNDER MONITORING. Fugitive Arnie Teves is seen leaving a Timor-Leste jail in this photo provided by his lawyer Ferdinand Topacio.

DOJ Undersecretary Raul Vasquez says Teves remains under the custody of Timor-Leste and is still deprived of liberty

MANILA, Philippines – Former Negros Oriental congressman Arnie Teves is now under house arrest in Timor-Leste, the Philippines’ Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Thursday, June 13.

Arnie Teves now under house arrest in Timor-Leste, says DOJ

“The Prosecutor General’s Office of Timor-Leste has officially placed former House representative Arnie Teves under house arrest. He will be under 24-hour security, with only family members permitted to visit him,” the DOJ said in a statement.

DOJ Undersecretary Raul Vasquez explained that Teves remains under the custody of Timor-Leste police and is still “deprived” of his liberty. Vasquez added that the extradition hearings are ongoing.

Earlier this week, Teves’ lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, claimed that his client was released from detention because the government “screwed up,” alleging that the Philippines filed its extradition request out of time. The DOJ was quick to counter Topacio’s claims and said Teves has been immediately rearrested by the Timor-Leste police as the Philippines continues to work on his extradition.

DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano explained that what happened was a procedural release, and Teves was immediately taken into custody by the Timorese police “to continue to stand trial for his anticipated extradition.”

Teves is the alleged mastermind behind the 2023 assassination of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo. He also faces a murder charge over three separate killings that happened between March and June 2019 in Negros Oriental. There are at least two standing warrants of arrest against Teves. 

After Degamo’s killing, Teves refused to return to the country and was later expelled from the House of Representatives. He also tried to apply for political asylum in Timor-Leste, but was denied.

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EXPLAINER: What happens to Arnie Teves after arrest in Timor-Leste?

EXPLAINER: What happens to Arnie Teves after arrest in Timor-Leste?

Teves was arrested in March through a collaboration between the International Police’s National Central Bureau in Dili and the Timorese police. He was on the Interpol’s red notice alert.

Clavano said the Philippine government’s main route to bring back Teves is through extradition, using the framework of the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, which both the Philippines and Timor-Leste are signatories to. Local authorities also canceled Teves’ passport, so deportation is also an option. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.