Video: Aruba judge orders release of suspect in Gardner case

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    >>> a new twist in the disappearance of american robyn gardner in aruba . the prime suspect in the case is behind bars , but that could change with a key hearing scheduled for today. jeff rossen has the latest. good morning to you.

    >> it may be a holiday in the states, but in aruba it's just another business day . a hearing is scheduled later today for gary giordano . he's been locked up in aruba for 111 days still not charged with anything. prosecutors ask the judge for yet another extension as his lawyers fight to get him out. it is as mysterious as they can. robyn gardner on vacation seemingly happy with gary giordano . one minute enjoying a beachside restaurant in aruba , the next missing, never to be seen again. giordano maintains his innocence, but police won't let him go. today prosecutors will try to convince the judge to hold him behind bars yet another 30 days .

    >> we have sufficient information to say that mr. giordano is not telling us the truth.

    >> giordano sticks by hi his story that he and robyn were snorkeling in aruba . she was swept under by the current as he got out of the rough water. you can see giordano looking for help in the exclusive surveillance videos minutes after she vanished.

    >> the greatest challenge for investigators is trying to show what happened to her. did she run away ? did she walk away ? was she murdered?

    >> investigators search the water and the rough terrain surrounding the beach where robyn was last seen. they brought in cadaver dogs. they even staged an elaborate reenactment of the crime, and no sign of robyn . just this week the dutch royal navy searched the sea again.

    >> we have the divers going into the water. we use robots to search the water for the body.

    >> reporter: giordano 's lawyer says the case against him is thin.

    >> on the proof that i've seen, everything up until now that i've seen clears gary giordano and confirms his version of the facts.

    >> now with today's hearing experts say the heat is on.

    >> i think the aruban government and investigators are under intense pressure to solve this case. we know what happened in the natalee holloway case. we know that there was no one charged in that. i think the aruban government is going to do everything they can to try to get this one right.

    >> today's hearing is a big deal . if the judge agrees to keep giordano locked up, this is the final extension. in 30 days prosecutors either have to charge him or let him go. carl, he could face murder or manslaughter charges in aruba .

    >> jeff rossen , thanks.

Image: Robyn Gardner
AP
Robyn Gardner, 35, of Frederick, Md., vanished in August.
NBC News and news services
updated 11/25/2011 3:37:46 PM ET 2011-11-25T20:37:46

A judge in Aruba on Friday ordered the release of U.S. businessman Gary Giordano, who was detained in connection with the August death of his traveling companion.

The judge said Giordano, a 50-year-old employment agency owner from Gaithersburg, Maryland,  must be freed on Tuesday without any conditions.

He has been in jail since Aug. 5 while investigators sought more time to gather and evaluate evidence in the death of 35-year-old Robyn Gardner, of Frederick, Md.

Aruban Solicitor General Taco Stein said that an appeal was filed later Friday and that a hearing could take place Monday.

Video: Aruba judge orders release of suspect in Gardner case (on this page)

"If you file a charge then you have to write the suspicions you have, and that means you have to be clear about what exactly has happened," Stein told NBC Washington.

"As long as we don't have the body or we don't have trace evidence or we don't have the material to bring us to a conclusion on that, it's very difficult to make a charge, because the only thing at this point in time you can say is she went missing on the second of August and we presume she's dead but we don't have evidence to that effect," he added.

"We feel that a crime has been committed," Stein said. "We still see Mr. Giordano as the main suspect in that."

Stein added that Giordano could be extradited back to Aruba if prosecutors felt they had enough evidence to go to court.

Video: Surveillance video shows ‘carefree’ Robyn Gardner (on this page)

Giordano has said that Gardner was swept out to sea on Aug. 2 while snorkeling. Her body has not been found.

Investigators developed Giordano as a suspect because he tried to cash in on a travel insurance policy he took out on Gardner and there were inconsistencies in his story, authorities have said.

Giordano was initially detained Aug. 5 at the airport before he could leave the island and his detention has been extended several times since then.

"It's our intention and our determination to continue this investigation and to see to it to bring about the truth, not only for the island but especially for the relatives of Robyn, especially this time of year with the holidays coming up," Stein told NBC Washington. "It must be very hard on them that this situation still exists."

The Associated Press and NBC News' Jeff Rossen contributed to this report.

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