Tuesday, July 5, 2005

ORANJESTAD, Aruba — A judge in Aruba ordered yesterday the immediate release of two Surinamese brothers held for nearly a month in the disappearance of an Alabama teenager, but the 17-year-old son of a top justice official on the island was ordered held for 60 more days.

The justice official’s son, Joran van der Sloot, and Surinamese brothers Deepak Kalpoe, 21, and Satish Kalpoe, 18, have been held since June 9 on suspicion they had knowledge about the disappearance of 18-year-old Natalee Holloway, of Mountain Brook, Ala. The three young men have acknowledged that they were with Miss Holloway the night she disappeared.

Miss Holloway vanished in the early hours of May 30, the last day of a five-day vacation on the Dutch Caribbean island to celebrate her high school graduation with 124 other students.

“The detention of Deepak and Satish K. has not been prolonged,” court clerk Isella Wernet said, reading from a prepared statement outside the courthouse. “The suspects are ordered released immediately. The detention of Joran van der S. has been prolonged 60 days beginning today.”

Miss Wernet did not explain the reasons for the judge’s decision. It wasn’t clear when the two would be released from custody.

Under Dutch law that governs Aruba, a protectorate of the Netherlands, detainees can be held 116 days before being charged by a judge. Joran still has not been charged formally, said his attorney, Antonio Carlo.

Prosecutors have acknowledged they have no solid evidence that Miss Holloway is dead. They said they could proceed with a criminal case anyway, although it would be difficult.

The judge’s decision was announced several hours after Joran and the Kalpoe brothers were brought to the courthouse in the capital, Oranjestad, in unmarked cars and escorted through a side door of the building.

Miss Holloway’s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, her father, David Holloway, and their respective spouses were allowed to wait inside the courthouse, but were prohibited from attending the hearings, a family friend said.

Earlier yesterday, attorneys for all three young men reiterated their clients’ claims of innocence.

“The further we get, the more it shows my client had nothing to do with any crime,” said Deepak Kalpoe’s attorney, Ruud Oomen.

Mr. Carlo would not comment on whether investigators had presented any new evidence against his client. But he said a judge did approve a motion allowing lawyers to be present whenever Joran is interrogated. Mr. Carlo said previous motions requesting a lawyer’s presence had been denied since the beginning of the case.

The Kalpoe brothers have told police they dropped Miss Holloway and Joran off near the Marriott Hotel in the early morning of May 30 and that was the last time they saw her.

Joran’s mother, Anita van der Sloot, said her son told her he was alone with Miss Holloway on a beach, but that he did not harm her.

Miss Holloway vanished the same day she was to catch a flight home with the other students celebrating high school graduation. Numerous searches by Dutch marines, Aruban investigators and volunteer rescue groups have failed to turn up any trace of her.

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