Mystery in the Tropics

Two of the suspects in the Holloway disappearance ordered released.

Nov. 30, 2007 — -- Two of the three suspects in the disappearance of an Alabama teenager in Aruba were ordered released Friday.

A judge Friday afternoon ordered brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, who had been detained by authorities in Aruba since their rearrest last week, released. The prosecutor's office said they would be freed by Saturday afternoon. Prosecutors have three days to appeal the judge's order.

The third, and chief, suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway, Joran van der Sloot, is being detained until early next month on the basis of what prosecutors called "new evidence." Defense attorneys have said that the new evidence appears to be wiretapped conversations between the three men.

A judge ruled earlier this week that police can continue to detain Van der Sloot, who flew in from the Netherlands this weekend, until Dec. 7.

The three friends are believed to be the last people to see Holloway alive. Her body has never been found.

A friend of Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty, told ABC News that Twitty was "upset and disappointed" by the Kalpoe brothers' release.

The men were last held as suspects two years ago, but they were released after a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to indict them in Holloway's disappearance.

Without confirming the type of new evidence, Hans Mos, one of the prosecutors, said it is compelling. "We are convinced if we had had this evidence we have now, they would not have been released by the court at that time."

The defense attorneys, David Kock and Ronald Wis, said the new evidence is based on wiretaps.

Prosecutor Dop Kruimel told The Associated Press that they were looking into phone calls but would not say whether they were the basis for the new round of arrests.

"It's part of the investigation," he said. "We do everything we can to see what happened."

Former Aruban prosecutor Helen Lejuez believes if the wiretap report is true, the suspects may have assumed they were no longer being wiretapped.

"It's a long time ago, and people get relaxed and maybe start talking — things they haven't said before, and prosecutors and police are sharp listeners," said Lejuez, who is now an attorney working for the Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty.

Meanwhile, prosecutors now insist they can prove that Holloway is dead.

"There's no doubt in my mind that she's dead. … I think we have enough evidence to prove the girl is not alive anymore, even without a body," Mos told CNN.

'One Happy Island'

Holloway was last seen leaving a nightclub with the three suspects May 30, 2005, just hours before she was to board a plane home with her Mountain Brook, Ala., classmates, who were on the island celebrating their high school graduation.

The case has an intriguing cast of characters: Van der Sloot, the comparatively privileged Dutch youth; his friends, the Kalpoe brothers; the aggrieved mother, Beth Twitty; the pressured Dutch prosecutors, inexperienced with such high-profile cases in a nation whose motto is "One Happy Island," and Joseph Tacopina, the globetrotting Italian-American defense attorney who is representing Van der Sloot.

A remarkable search effort, fueled at least in part by the global media coverage, was undertaken shortly after Holloway's disappearance.

Aruban soldiers and hundreds of volunteers combed seemingly every inch of the tiny island in the summer of 2005, looking for any trace of the missing blond teen.

The FBI got involved, and Dutch F-16s with sophisticated search equipment peered down from the sky. A Texas search and rescue company called EquuSearch volunteered its resources and used its sophisticated technology to search the waters surrounding the island.

With the kind of grim, if maybe unrealistic determination characteristic of parents whose children disappear, Holloway's father, David Holloway, told ABC News that a new search team, based in Louisiana, had departed for Aruba, where it will conduct a fresh search off the waters of the island.

"It's like this: We've searched all the land areas," Holloway told the AP. "It's common knowledge on the island that if someone were to dispose of the body, it would be out in the ocean."

Islanders, both frustrated by the stain the disappearance has left on their island and as intrigued as anyone about what really happened to the young woman, believe in large numbers that Holloway is dead.

A resident who declined to be identified told ABC News that his fellow Arubans suspect that Holloway's body was dumped into the shark-infested waters off the island's northern coastline. In the absence of any solid information, it's the kind of thinly informed speculation that has become the talk of the town.

"Some of my friends are saying, 'Do they finally have something on these guys?'" said Danela Colinha, 27, who has lived on the island for two years. "They really want to see this whole problem solved. Other people hate [Natalee's mother] Beth Twitty and the media," he said.

"But you know what? She's her mother. She's the first person who has the right to know what happened. I understand her rage. I understand why she's so mad,'' Colinha said. "She still doesn't know what happened to her daughter."

Attorneys for the suspects have long expressed frustration at their clients' repeated detention and argue vigorously that the three young men are scapegoats for an investigation under enormous pressure to deliver answers. All three have been repeatedly detained and then freed because of a lack of evidence.

"From a human point of view, I think it's almost a disaster for a young kid who has overcome so much trying to get a new grip on his life," Van der Sloot's Dutch lawyer Leo van den Eeden told "Good Morning America Weekend Edition." "And suddenly, as if by lighting, he is getting back again."

Tacopina, Van der Sloot's American lawyer, said the rearrests were expected.

"This may be another go-round when they'll do some more questioning and release Joran, " Tacopina said.

With the statute of limitations on filing charges in the case approaching, Tacopina said he believes this latest development is more about that deadline than any "smoking gun" evidence.

"In the early stages of the investigation, they botched it so significantly," Tacopina said, referring to the police and investigators in Aruba. "So they come back to the safety of the last three men to see her alive."

But prosecutors told ABC News they are confident they are closer to the truth of what happened to Holloway than ever before.

"We are pretty confident about the arrests and the reasons why we arrested these three guys," Mos said in an interview last week on "Good Morning America."

"We have new evidence, which we think is important in this case, and we see it as a necessary step, up to the end of the year, where we have to take a final decision in this case," he said.

Holloway Disappears

Holloway was last seen the night she disappeared leaving the Carlos & Charlie's nightclub with the three suspects. Van der Sloot has acknowledged that he took her to a lighthouse for a romantic interlude. He has said that from there, the couple went to the beach, near a group of seaside fishing huts on the island's northern coast.

Van der Sloot told ABC News in an interview in 2005 that the young woman was intoxicated and did not want to return to her group and leave the island. Nevertheless, he said, he was tired from a long night of partying and left the young woman alone on the beach. The Kalpoe brothers drove the pair around the island that night.

In a closed hearing that lasted more than a half hour, a court in Arnhem confirmed Van der Sloot's identity and said that he had been arrested properly, clearing the way for his transfer to Aruba, Kruimel said in a telephone interview.

Kruimel said Van der Sloot will be flown to Aruba within days. Van den Eeden criticized the decision to send his client to Aruba after he had worked hard to build a life in the Netherlands.

Holloway's father told the AP that he believes his daughter's body was thrown into the ocean in deeper waters than those already searched. He said he based that belief on conversations with a police official and a private forensics expert.