Aruban lawyers for suspect in US teen’s disappearance dispute new evidence

Published 4:34 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lawyers for one of three young men re-arrested in the disappearance of U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway accused prosecutors of rehashing old evidence and predicted all three suspects will be released again.

Attorneys Ronald Wix and David Kock told reporters Monday that prosecutors gave them an 11 1/2-page summary of the evidence, and said it mostly contained segments of interrogations that had not been transcribed previously and recordings of conversations from cell phones and discussions inside the home of their client, Satish Kalpoe.

They disputed prosecution claims that the evidence — submitted to a judge to justify detaining their client and the two others — is significant or new.

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“They will be acquitted. They will be freed,” Wix said.

Separately, a judge in Aruba ruled there is enough evidence to detain suspect Joran van der Sloot for an initial eight-day period while authorities pursue the investigation. A judge had already made such a ruling for brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe.

Prosecutor Hans Mos shrugged off the criticism, noting that the defense lawyers are also barred from disclosing details about the evidence.

“I see myself supported by the judge, who judged this police report of over 100 pages, and who saw new evidence in this report, and who, with us, sees enough reason to keep him in custody for a longer period,” Mos told reporters.

The defense lawyers would not discuss it in detail at their news conference, but were dismissive of prosecutors’ latest efforts to resolve the case.

“It seems like they shook the file, threw it on the table and qualified some things as new evidence,” Kock told reporters at his office in Oranjestad. “This is unacceptable.”

Wix said “90 to 95 percent” of the material in the summary file was not new.

“The legal basis for this detention is seriously questionable,” Wix said. “You could almost say illegal.”

The Kalpoe brothers — Satish is 21, Deepak, 24 — were re-arrested Wednesday along with Joran van der Sloot, 20, on suspicion of involvement in the death of Holloway, who was last seen leaving a bar with them on May 30, 2005, hours before she was scheduled to return home with fellow high school classmates celebrating their graduation. Despite extensive searches, no trace has been found of Holloway, from Mountain Brook, Ala.

Holloway attended junior high in Clinton, Miss., and her father still lives in Meridian.

Prosecutors say they have evidence that Holloway, who was 18 when she disappeared, is dead.

All three suspects have denied any involvement in Holloway’s disappearance and were previously released for lack of evidence.

Wix said the three are “devastated” by the continued focus on them.

“Every time they have a few months of rest, they think their life can go on and they start getting used to the idea that they have peace again,” he said. “And then something like this happens.”