Image: U.S. businessman Gary Giordano, center, is pictured shortly after being freed from police custody Monday as he is driven away from a detention facility in Aruba.
Pedro Famous Diaz  /  AP
U.S. businessman Gary Giordano, center, is pictured shortly after being freed from police custody Monday. He is shown sitting in the back of an SUV driven away from an Aruban detention facility by local lawyer Chris Lejuez, and American lawyer Jose Baez, left, in Oranjestad, Aruba.
NBC News and news services
updated 11/30/2011 4:16:37 PM ET 2011-11-30T21:16:37

A U.S. businessman who spent nearly four months in an Aruban jail before a judge ordered his release scored another legal victory Wednesday when an appeals court rejected a prosecution appeal to put him back in pretrial detention, his lawyer said Wednesday.

The three-judge appeals court on the Dutch Caribbean island upheld the lower court ruling that prosecutors had insufficient evidence to continue holding Gary Giordano as a suspect in the disappearance and presumed death of his traveling companion, Robyn Gardner, said defense attorney Chris Lejuez.

The ruling came hours after Giordano left the island. Prosecutors had said they intended to seek his extradition if they win their appeal. Under the Aruban system, prosecutors would have to bring the 50-year-old from Gaithersburg, Maryland, to trial if they hope to pursue a case against him.

"There is no more appeals," Lejuez said. "If they want him behind bars now they would have to start a court case against him ... They have to charge him and take his case to court and they have years to do that."

The defense attorney said he expects the case will go no further.

Image: Robyn Gardner
Anonymous  /  AP
Robyn Gardner, 35, of Frederick, Md., disappeared in Aruba.

"The truth is, as I showed the judges today, there is no evidence whatsoever against him, nothing, zero," he said. "So, I don't think this case will go to court."

Prosecutors say they will continue the investigation and under Dutch law they have up to three years to continue to purse leads against Giordano and press charges, NBC News reported.

Aruban law allows pretrial detention while authorities investigate a crime, but it is subject to a judge's review and the threshold of evidence necessary to hold someone increases as times goes on. A judge ruled last week that prosecutors had not met the requirement and ordered the release of Giordano. He had been in custody since Aug. 5, three days after reporting to police that Gardner disappeared while snorkeling. Her body has not been found.

The case has been compared to that of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, who disappeared on Aruba in May 2005 on the last night of her high school graduation trip to the island. Her body was also never found and the prime suspect was detained for months before he was eventually released for lack of evidence.

Giordano was released from jail on Tuesday night and took the first flight to the U.S. He flew to Miami and then headed to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in the company of his U.S. attorney, Jose Baez, who won an acquittal for Florida mother Casey Anthony in her murder trial earlier this year.

NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Gary Giordano heads home a free man

  1. Closed captioning of: Gary Giordano heads home a free man

    >>> the prime suspect in the disappearance of an american woman in aruba has been released from jail. that leaves no one in custody for the presumed death of robyn gardner . nbc's jeff rossen is in aruba with more. jeff, good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning to you. gary giordano is at the airport in aruba right now. he arrived within the past hour and our cameras were there to get a shot of him walking in. mr. giordano would not say anything, but he with his lawyer, jose baez, who famously defended casey anthony. this is giordano 's first time being a free man in four months. he's been locked up for the disappearance of robyn gardner for in our months. prosecutors say is he lying about what happened but they say they don't have enough to charge him yet so a judge here ordered his release. by the way it was a dramatic scene at the prison late last night when mr. giordano was released. media swarmed his vehicle, and then he was brought to a local hotel, a very popular hotel for american tourists, where he spent the night, because he missed the last flight to the u.s. last night. that is why he's flying out this morning. we're told he spoke with his children last night by phone, an emotional phone call and his first order of business is to see them when he gets back to the u.s. but once again, gary giordano , a free man this morning, but he remains, prosecutors say, the prime suspect in the disappearance of robyn gardner .

    >> jeff rossen in aruba , thank you. for more on this story nbc's "dateline" this friday is all about the robyn gardner mystery, "missing in paradise" air this is friday night at 10:00 , 9:00 central time .


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