Court ignores confessions in Holloway case
Joran van der Sloot, the major suspect in the Natalee Holloway disappearance case, will not be rearrested after his recent on-camera confessions but "fears for his life".
Law court officials on the Dutch Antillean island of Curaçao say that Mr Van der Sloot's secretly filmed statements that he was with the girl when she died, and that he disposed of her body, do not constitute new legal evidence.
The suspect's lawyer, Bert de Rooij, claims that his client intentionally lied to the informer who caught the statements on video tape using a hidden camera in his car.
Investigative journalist Peter R. de Vries who televised Van der Sloot's confessions in a nationwide TV programme is disappointed by the Curaçao court's decision. Mr De Vries told BNR Radio that this is a bitter pill to swallow, particularly for the family.
"It highlights the distinction between journalistic evidence and legal evidence. I think that the entire nation has been able to see on TV how this man repeated his confessions on five different days: that he was on the beach [in Aruba] with the girl when she died, that he disposed of her body. He never retracted any of this, in fact he reaffirmed it time after time. It is bitter that this information cannot be used. The only reason for him to get rid of the girl's body is that he did not want the police or anybody else to determine what had happened to her."
One of the court's arguments to let Mr Van der Sloot off for the time being is that no new legal evidence has come to light as a result of theTV confessions.
Mr De Vries points out that Mr Van der Sloot said he had thrown away a pair of Natalee's shoes. Earlier he had claimed he had forgotten them on the beach. The investigative journalist is suggesting that these shoes may still be around somewhere on Aruba, and that they might yield some forensic evidence.
Mr De Vries says that Joran van der Sloot has hindered the legal process of establishing the truth. He also questions the view of the Curaçao court, as expressed by a spokesperson, that Mr Van der Sloot may be suffering from a mental condition. Mr De Vries says:
"It is curious for a court spokesman to say anything about a suspect's mental make-up. As far as I know, Joran van der Sloot has never undergone any psychiatric tests, so the court is apparently speaking on the basis of impressions only. I believe that is improper."
Suspect gone into hiding
Bert de Rooij, the lawyer of the main suspect in the Natalee Holloway case, has told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that his client Joran van der Sloot is in hiding in the Netherlands and fears for his life. "He's not hiding from the police, but from a nationwide kangaroo court. He has very good reasons to fear that if he goes out he won't make it to the other side of the street."
He was referring to the consequences of the televised confession by Joran van der Sloot broadcast on Dutch television on 3 February. The nearly two-hour show, in which the suspect was filmed by hidden camera, was viewed by seven million viewers more than any Dutch TV programme this century. The undercover operation was the brainchild of Peter R de Vries, the Netherlands' top crime reporter.
Mr de Rooij says that some of the statements Mr Van der Sloot made to Mr De Vries's informer couldn't possibly be true. Referring to a statement by his client that he made a local call to someone on the island of Aruba for help: "The public telephone he said he called from can only be used for international calls."
15 February 2008
[Photo based on SBS6 screenshot.]
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]