Longer Detentions Sought in Aruba Case
ORANJESTAD, Aruba (AP) _ Three young men detained in the disappearance of an Alabama teenager appeared before a judge Monday as prosecutors argued they should be held for another 60 days.
Relatives of 18-year-old Natalee Holloway arrived at the courthouse about the same time as the detainees and stayed for about an hour in their first appearance at court proceedings in the case.
Aruba’s chief government spokesman, Ruben Trapenberg, said last week that the three could be formally charged with a crime as soon as Monday, but their lawyers said that did not happen.
Joran van der Sloot, the 17-year-old son of a justice official in Aruba, and his friends, Surinamese brothers Deepak Kalpoe, 21, and Satish Kalpoe, 18, have been detained since June 9 but have not been charged.
Under Dutch law that governs Aruba, a protectorate of the Netherlands, detainees can be held 116 days before being charged by a judge, but prosecutors need to go to court periodically to renew the detention.
The three men arrived at the Dutch Caribbean island’s only courthouse in unmarked cars and were escorted through a side door.
All three were seen being escorted out separately at different times about two hours later.
Lawyers for the Kalpoe brothers told reporters prosecutors had requested permission to hold the brothers for another 60 days but presented no evidence.
The lawyers said they expected the judge to issue a decision later Monday.
``They did not present any new evidence against my client,″ said one of Satish’s lawyers, Elgin Zeppenfeldt. ``I believe they’ll have to let him go because it’s getting harder and harder to hold him.″
Ruud Oomen, a lawyer representing Deepak Kalpoe, echoed that sentiment.
``The further we get, the more it shows my client had nothing to do with any crime,″ he said. ``What was presented (in court Monday), in my view, was beneficial to my client.″
Van der Sloot’s lawyer Antonio Carlo would not comment on whether investigators had presented new evidence against his client, but he said a judge did approve a motion letting attorneys be present during interrogations. Carlo said previous motions requesting a lawyer’s presence had been denied.
``It’s important for me to say again today that my client maintains his innocence,″ Carlo added.
The Kalpoes’ mother, Nadira Ramirez, expressed hope for her sons’ release as she waited outside the courthouse along with a handful of curious tourists and hordes of news media.
``We are hoping and expecting them to be released because they are innocent,″ she said. ``They don’t have any evidence against them.″
Holloway’s stepfather George ``Jug″ Twitty, said the family felt it was important to attend the hearing as well.
``It was comforting for my wife to be in there today,″ he said of Holloway’s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty. Holloway Twitty did not speak to reporters.
A lone protester walked back and forth in front of the courthouse with a sign reading ``Let them go. They are innocent. This is a setup.″ She identified herself as Myriam Croes, but would not comment further.
The three detainees have acknowledged that they were with Holloway in the early morning hours of May 30, the day she disappeared. Van der Sloot’s mother, Anita, said her son told her he was alone with Holloway on a beach but he did not harm her.
The Kalpoe brothers have told police they dropped Holloway and van der Sloot off near the Marriott Hotel about 2 a.m. and that was the last time they saw the blond, blue-eyed high school graduate from Mountain Brook, Ala.
Authorities said they have no physical evidence suggesting Holloway is dead, but Attorney General Karin Janssen has said that it would not be impossible to argue a criminal case even without a body.
Holloway vanished the same day she was to catch a flight home after a five-day vacation celebrating her high school graduation with 124 other students from Alabama. Numerous searches by Dutch marines, Aruban investigators and volunteer rescue groups have failed to turn up any trace of her.
Holloway Twitty arrived in Aruba within hours of her daughter’s disappearance and has been on the island ever since, distributing fliers, monitoring searches and appearing on national U.S. television shows to keep up the pressure on investigators.