Feb. 4, 2008 -- It will be difficult under Aruban law for prosecutors to build a case against Joran Van der Sloot in the Natalee Holloway case, according to Nico Jörg, Aruba's advocate general, and acting attorney general.
In an interview with ABC News, Jörg outlined several possible options for prosecuting the young Dutch/Aruban man, a suspect in the disappearance of the Alabama teen, who went to the island on holiday more than two years ago.
Jörg emphasized that there are fundamental differences between the laws of the United States and laws in Aruba. For example, there is no trial by jury in this tiny island nation of just 103,000 citizens. All trials are by judge only. A suspect's own words can't be used to implicate him or her, and there is no such thing as perjury for a suspect in Aruba.
The acting attorney general said prosecutors will look at the following possible charges:
AIDING AND ABETTING FIRST DEGREE MURDER — Possible sentence: Life in prison. This would require prosecutors to prove "conditional intent" on the part of Van der Sloot. In the undercover videotape obtained by a Dutch journalist, Van der Sloot says he can't say for sure that Holloway was actually dead when he called a friend to help him dispose of her body, after she passed out on the beach and began shaking uncontrollably. Jörg told ABC News that to prove this charge, prosecutors would need medical experts to talk about the effects of alcohol poisoning on a body.
INJURY TO HEALTH CAUSING DEATH — Possible sentence: 6 to 9 years. Prosecutors would want to prove that Van der Sloot knowingly gave Holloway too much alcohol. In previous statements, he has admitted giving her a drink of Bacardi 151, which is 75 percent alcohol.
ACCIDENTAL DEATH — Possible sentence: 9 months. Prosecutors would have to demonstrate that Van der Sloot did not take reasonable precautions when he noticed Holloway was unconscious.
ILLEGAL DISPOSAL OF A CORPSE — Possible sentence: 6 months. On the undercover tape, Van der Sloot says he called his friend, and asked him to bring his boat to the beach so that Holloway's body could be thrown deep in the ocean.
MISDEMEANOR CHARGE FOR NOT GIVING HELP TO SOMEONE IN NEED — Possible sentence: 6 months.
All of these charges require that prosecutors have independent evidence placing Van der Sloot with Holloway at the time of her death.
Jörg notes that, even if Van der Sloot is convicted of one of the lesser crimes listed above, the months he has already spent in prison would be deducted from any future conviction.