Court blocks Dutch student’s arrest in Holloway’s disappearance

Published 4:18 pm Friday, February 15, 2008

An appeals court has denied a request by Aruban prosecutors to arrest a Dutch college student in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, his lawyer said in an interview Thursday.

The prosecutors had appealed a decision earlier this month by an Aruban judge that Joran Van der Sloot could not be arrested based on statements he made in a secretly recorded video. The tape showed Van der Sloot saying he was with the Alabama teenager when she died in the Dutch Caribbean island and that he had a friend dump her body at sea.

The appeals court ruled that Van der Sloot’s statements were inconsistent with other evidence and insufficient to hold him, the Dutch student’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, told Fox News. He said the investigation remains, he added.

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“The statements are in fact disprovable, in large part, by the evidence, the court opined,” Tacopina said.

Tacopina and Aruban officials could not immediately be reached for further comment.

Aruban prosecutors questioned Van der Sloot earlier this month, and he again denied any role in Holloway’s disappearance. He claimed he was under the influence of marijuana when he made the statements in the video.

Van der Sloot, 20, was detained previously in the case but was released for insufficient evidence.

Holloway, an 18-year-old from Mountain Brook, Ala., was last seen in May 2005 leaving a bar in the Aruban capital Oranjestad with Van der Sloot and two Surinamese brothers on the final night of a high school graduation trip to the island. Extensive searches have found no trace of her.

Van der Sloot has denied to authorities any involvement in her death. In the video, first broadcast on Dutch television, he says she collapsed on the beach after they left the bar and that he called a friend to dump her body at sea. The statements were recorded in installments inside a Range Rover by a man working for a Dutch television crime reporter.