Aruba prosecutor: End is near in Holloway case

Published 11:15 pm Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Aruban prosecutors said Tuesday their investigation into the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway is nearing the end and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos said his office still needs “at least another few months” to investigate statements made by the only remaining suspect, Joran van der Sloot, during a hidden-camera interview which was broadcast on Dutch television last year.

He then said prosecutors “are approaching the end of this lengthy investigation.”

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“If you have relevant information — no matter how small or uninteresting it may seem — please notify my office or the police,” Mos said in a statement Tuesday.

Holloway, from Mountain Brook, Ala., was last seen in May 2005 leaving a bar in the Aruban capital Oranjestad with Van der Sloot on the final night of a high school graduation trip to the island. She was 18 at the time.

No trace of Holloway has ever been found despite extensive searches involving hundreds of volunteers, Aruban soldiers, FBI agents and even Dutch F-16 jets with special equipment.

Aruban investigators reopened the case last year based on the hidden-camera recordings made by Dutch television crime reporter Peter R. de Vries.

But judges rejected an attempt to re-arrest Van der Sloot for statements he made on the Dutch TV show. The hidden-camera recordings showed Van der Sloot saying he was with Holloway when she died on the Dutch Caribbean island and that he had a friend dump her body at sea.

Mos, without disclosing specifics, said the TV program caused a “new stream of information” regardless of the appeals court decision blocking authorities from arresting Van der Sloot for a third time based on the statements.

“My office does not want to disclose these results to the suspect and thus make him wiser even before he has been confronted with these results,” Mos said, referring to Van der Sloot, who was last known to be living in Thailand.

In November, Ann Angela, a spokeswoman for the Aruba Prosecutors’ Office, said authorities hoped to decide by the end of 2008 whether to prosecute Van der Sloot or close the case for good.

Attorneys for Van der Sloot did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment and there was no answer at his parents’ home in Aruba.

Natalee Holloway’s mother, Beth Holloway, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.