updated 6/30/2005 8:21:53 AM ET 2005-06-30T12:21:53

Guest: Irv Harrell, Mariaine Croes, Glen Corbett, Antonio Carlo, Milko Baiz, Edwin Figueroa

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  We continue now with live coverage of what at one time looked like the gates of hell had been opened.  Fire balls shooting into the air at 50 feet.  Fortunately, it appears that no one has been injured, almost remarkable.  Seventy employees approximately work at the Praxair plant.  It appears all are accounted for and all are well, but that does not mean that this is not having a devastating impact on that area.

People were shut in their homes.  They could not leave.  There were others in the area who were evacuated.  Joined now by Irv Harrell, night editor from the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch”  who joins us by phone.  Irv, you were there.  You witnessed it.  Tell us what you saw. 

IRV HARRELL, “ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH” (via phone):  I was coming into work and it was about 3:30, and I got a page, a fire page saying that there were explosions happening and I was driving on the interstate nearby, and I could just see the plumes of smoke and the big fireballs coming from that particular area.  So I dispatched one of my reporters that comes in later, and then I headed over toward the scene to gather as much information as I could. 

When I got there, I got to—pretty close, like where there was a fence bordering the company where the explosives were happening.  And the neighborhood, Lafayette Park, where they have all these really nice homes, these Victorian-style homes there, and I could just—it was amazing.  You could feel the shaking with every explosion.  There were about 15 explosions while I was there.  Big fireballs and you could see the shrapnel flying from the plant and actually going into the neighborhoods. 

ABRAMS:  We could see the pictures, I mean, from the helicopters.  It was stunning. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  You would see almost looked like bolts of lightning fire shooting out. 

HARRELL:  I turned down the street and there were like six firefighters there and they were trying to evacuate people and keep people back.  And at the same time as I was standing there with them talking to them, they would constantly back up further...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

HARRELL:  ... as another explosion would occur.  It—I have to admit it was one of the scariest feelings I think I‘ve ever had. 

ABRAMS:  They had to back off actually initially to sort of let the fire play out...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... before moving in.  Now you‘re looking at pictures here from moments ago as the gases really led to that fire taking off in the way that you are watching.  I should point out that we will be continuing the regular program of THE ABRAMS REPORT in just a moment.  We‘ll have the latest from Aruba and some of our other stories coming up.  But we continue with Irv Harrell on the phone who was an eyewitness to this happening. 

So tell me, you literally saw the first flames coming up where you sort of looked into the sky and said oh my? 

HARRELL:  I was driving in and you could see just these burst of

flames coming from a particular area.  Over—it is really—it‘s fairly

·         it‘s between where I live and where work is, so I could just see them from the interstate and I—it was unbelievable.  I had never seen anything like that.  And so I just turned off. 

I got off the exit there, and turned down one of the streets and I was up close.  I mean it...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

HARRELL:  ... the ground was shaking.  You could feel the heat from every explosion and you could see the shrapnel and there were pieces of like—what looked like propane tanks or gas tanks of some sort that were littering—literally littering the streets as the explosives were occurring. 

ABRAMS:  I mean you look at them, and I hope people recognize what a large area we are talking about there.  I mean from this distance it doesn‘t look large.  But let‘s—you know what, let‘s go to KSDK‘s coverage because the person I want to hear from is the fire chief and that‘s who they‘re talking to.  Let‘s listen.

HARRELL:  OK.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  ... talk just for a second.  I wanted to ask -

·         excuse me—I wanted to ask you about what happened.  Have you been able to determine at this point, Chief, what started all of this? 

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE CHIEF:  No, we have not.  We talked with the plant manager.  He saw the location afire, but he didn‘t understand where it started.  When our first company arrived, the building was...

(AUDIO GAP)

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE CHIEF:  ... building and we do have two apparatus with screens, fire screens to protect exposure.  Our primary concern were flammable liquids involved and also the toxicity—toxic liquids that were there.  We had some chlorine and hydrogen chloride. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  So what is burning?  Is it—are these gases that are burning...

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE CHIEF:  Well, these are liquid fire gases.  You know, they had a large liquid oxygen tank on the scene, also.  These are—this is an industrial gas supply company and what they do is supply other gas companies.  One of the largest supplier they had was 78,000 cubic feet of propane, but the fortunate thing is they were in separate tanks.  They weren‘t in one tank.  If it had been one tank we‘d have a terrible situation here. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  Have you ever seen a fire like this before? 

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE CHIEF:  Yes, I have. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  OK, so this not that unusual or is it?

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE CHIEF:  Well it‘s unusual but it does happen. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  Now I‘ve asked the mayor, I‘ll ask you, any injuries at this point? 

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE CHIEF:  No injuries to firefighters, I don‘t believe there‘s any to police officers and...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  ... some—a lot of ambulance coming in here.

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE CHIEF:  Well that is a precautionary measure.  The heat, one, and two, if something should occur we have them here. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  How many fire crews do you have here on the scene, Chief?

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE CHIEF:  Right now we have three alarms.  We‘re talking about 15 fire companies and additional six officers. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  So you‘ve got, what, 110 men here or so? 

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE CHIEF:  Well about 60. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  Sixty?

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE CHIEF:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  And is this a hazardous site now because of the chemicals that are on the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE CHIEF:  That‘s possible.  It all depends on what spilled on the ground, but most of the chemicals will evacuate quite readily. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  (INAUDIBLE) Fire Chief Sherman George.  Chief, thank you very much for your—I want to talk to Chief Joe Mokwa.  Chief, you‘ve—I see your men are coming into the scene as well.  Are they taking any precautions for what the chemicals that are burning? 

UNIDENTIFIED FIRE CHIEF:  We have three locations where the air is being monitored right now, so we‘ve got nothing to indicate there‘s any—that we have to be concerned about.  My people are helping to evacuate people in the five-block area out of their homes.  (INAUDIBLE) relocation (INAUDIBLE) a center at Tucker and Clark, Tucker and Park, Lafayette Park and then Cardinal and Chodal (ph)...

ABRAMS:  We have been watching KSDK‘s coverage of this enormous fire near St. Louis at the Praxair distribution plant.  They process propane and other gases for industrial use.  And it is clear both from the chief‘s comments and from the pictures themselves that this was an enormous fire caused by an enormous amount of gas.  Now exactly what led to the fire in the first place, that is something that they are going to have to assess. 

You heard the chief there saying that they have not figured out exactly what caused this in the first place.  But when you first see the pictures—when we first saw these pictures about an hour ago, it was a frightening scene -- 50 feet in the air.  Helicopters in the area said they could feel—meaning the reporters and others in the helicopters—said they could feel the heat from the flames that high above the scene. 

But it seems that this has really come to as fortunate an end as one can hope, which is that so far, it appears there are no reports of any fatalities or injuries.  And the fire squad, there you see, is on the scene. 

All right, what we‘re going to do is we‘re going to take a break here.  We‘re going to monitor this story.  We will come back to it in our next half-hour.  Take a break here.  When we come back, we‘re going to head to Aruba where continuing developments, the story of missing Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway.  A father and son are now in custody.  We‘re going to talk with the attorney for one of them.  We‘re also going to talk with someone from the prosecutor‘s office.  Exactly what is the father being detained for?  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Now to Aruba where authorities say they have enough evidence to keep Paul Van Der Sloot in custody.  He is an Aruban judicial official and the father of a key suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.  Police have held his son, Joran Van Der Sloot, for more than two weeks. 

The 17-year-old first told them he dropped Natalee off at her hotel the night she went missing, but then said he left her alone and unharmed on a beach.  We talk to Joran‘s attorney later in the program.  Also a private search and rescue team will begin using sonar and search dogs tomorrow to look for Natalee in areas that have not yet been searched. 

NBC‘s Martin Savidge is live in Aruba with the latest on the investigation.  So Martin, it now appears that there is some movement with regard to some of the suspects, right? 

MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, you are right, Dan.  This is shaping up to be potentially a very pivotal weekend in this investigation for what you just outlined there.  Not only the investigation that‘s underway, but also with this new search team coming in with a lot of new equipment and new ideas as they go about looking for Natalee Holloway. 

But to the investigation, we are told that all three of the I guess prime suspects, we can refer to them—these are the young men that were with Natalee Holloway the night she vanished—were brought in for an interrogation today.  They were all interrogated separately.  Then Paul Van Der Sloot, the father of 17-year-old Joran Van Der Sloot, one of those suspects, he is cooperating according to his attorney with investigators. 

He was cooperating, his attorney said, when he was a witness, and he continues to cooperate now that he is a suspect.  Important to point out that under Dutch law, your attorney is not allowed to be present with you when you are interrogated or questioned by investigators.  That is usually the opposite of what happens in the United States as most people the first thing they ask for is to have their attorney present, so there is a significant difference there. 

And then tomorrow, we understand that at least four of the five suspects are expected to go before a judge.  It is possible all five will go before a judge that is being brought in from the neighboring island of Curacao.  The purpose of this is a routine hearing.  It happens every eight days where they go over the evidence against each of these individuals to determine whether or not it justifies their continuing being held.

What could be very unique about this event happening tomorrow is that father and son could see each other in passing.  We are told that Joran Van Der Sloot has been told quite clearly that his father has been taken in custody.  And you may remember, Dan, this gets to the point we talked about yesterday that maybe, just maybe the father was brought in addition to questioning, that they want to apply pressure to the 17-year-old and what better way to do it than to say you know what?  The consequences are spreading and now your dad is in custody. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Well...

SAVIDGE:  Dan.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Martin Savidge thanks very much.  Appreciate it.

Joran Van Der Sloot‘s father joins him in police custody.  As we said, arrested yesterday after being interrogated last weekend.  The police impounded two cars from the Van Der Sloot home last week.  The attorney general‘s office says Paul Van Der Sloot was arrested because he is a suspect in Natalee Holloway‘s disappearance.

Joining me now is a spokesperson for the attorney general‘s office in Aruba.  Mariaine Croes joins us once again.  Thank you very much for coming back on the program.  We appreciate it. 

All right, so...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... let me—how—I know you can‘t talk specifics about sort of exactly what is being asked, what is being said, et cetera.  How can you characterize why Paul Van Der Sloot has been arrested? 

MARIAINE CROES, ATTORNEY GENERAL‘S OFFICE SPOKESPERSON, ARUBA:  Yes, I can explain it without going into specifics of this investigation.  When somebody is questioned as a witness, and they tell a certain story, the investigation still continues.  That story will be checked out.  And if that story you tell as a witness is not supported by other stories or is not supported by other facts of the investigation, a person who was first a witness can become a suspect. 

ABRAMS:  And that is what happened here, correct? 

CROES:  Yes, at this point, yes. 

ABRAMS:  And is he a suspect in connection with Natalee‘s actual disappearance or is he a suspect in connection with something that happened after Natalee may have disappeared? 

CROES:  At this point if have I to describe it in general terms, he is a suspect in the disappearance. 

ABRAMS:  So he is a suspect in connection with why Natalee is no longer here, the reason we can‘t find Natalee.

CROES:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  As opposed to what some people have been saying, which is that he may be a suspect in helping his son after the fact. 

CROES:  No, at this point, the suspicion against him is that he was somehow involved in the disappearance of Ms. Holloway. 

ABRAMS:  And just so I‘m clear, meaning as distinct from helping someone after the fact, correct? 

CROES:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  Let me ask you about the comment that Martin Savidge just made, and that is that Joran Van Der Sloot has been told that his father is in custody.  Can you tell us anything about that? 

CROES:  No, that is something that is for us too specific a part of the investigation, so I could not comment on it at this point. 

ABRAMS:  What about the suspects being moved?  Now I understand that you were able to confirm that Joran Van Der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers, the two of them, were all moved from a prison back to the police station.  What does that mean? 

CROES:  The interrogations take place at a police station, so at this point the three suspects are being held in the prison, that‘s the KIA, so when they are interrogated they will be brought from the prison to the police station so that they can be interrogated there. 

ABRAMS:  Will they be interrogated together or separately? 

CROES:  Interrogations take place separately. 

ABRAMS:  But wasn‘t there one interrogation where they were all in the same room? 

CROES:  No, the interrogations take place separately. 

ABRAMS:  So that was not true, that there was one point when all of the suspects were questioned together in one room? 

CROES:  That is something that at this point I can only say that the interrogations that are being done by the police take place separately.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you a couple of questions about the law.  Are you allowed to refuse to speak?  Meaning in the United States you can say I want to talk to my lawyer, I don‘t want to talk to the police, you talk to my lawyer.  Can you do that in Aruba? 

CROES:  Yes, the suspect also has rights here, so he can say I refuse to speak. 

ABRAMS:  And then the—then can they say, please speak to me in the future through my lawyer and then it is only the lawyer who they can speak to? 

CROES:  The thing is, what I am talking about is during an interrogation, if the police ask a suspect a question, this suspect can say no, I do not want to talk about it, I‘m remaining quiet, I want to see my lawyer.  They can say that.  They are not—it is not that if a question is being asked of you, you are—you have to answer.  You can say you are not going to answer. 

ABRAMS:  What is the rule in Aruba with regard to wire tapping?  Are wiretaps part of investigations on Aruba? 

CROES:  In general, taps can be used, yes. 

ABRAMS:  And they are admissible in court? 

CROES:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  I assume you can‘t tell me whether there was a wiretap used in this case, right? 

CROES:  No, at this point I could not do that. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  Plea-bargains—no plea-bargains in Aruba? 

CROES:  At this point we are—I don‘t want to speculate about anything at this point is not yet sure.  I can say that we are—the investigation is still ongoing, so I do like to keep my comments in a general area at this point, so I do not want to speculate about what will happen in the future. 

ABRAMS:  As a matter of law...

CROES:  At this point we have five suspects in...

ABRAMS:  But as a matter of law...

CROES:  ... in custody.

ABRAMS:  As a matter of law, though, put this case aside for a minute, just generally in Aruba, can prosecutors cut a deal with a defendant which says you don‘t go to trial and in exchange, we‘ll get you—you know you‘ll plead guilty to this particular crime, and we‘ll ask for this particular sentence?  Is that permissible in Aruba? 

CROES:  It‘s usually not done, no.  It is not done. 

ABRAMS:  Because as you know, I mean here that‘s a technique that is often used with other suspects, meaning if they have a key suspect they want to get they‘ll try and make a deal effectively with another one of the suspects to say hey look, you come in and testify against your friend here, and we‘ll give you a much lesser sentence.  And that‘s how it is done a lot of the time.  It doesn‘t sound like that is how you do it there. 

CROES:  No.  We also—aside from interrogating suspects, we also perform other parts of the investigation, so that‘s for us also very important. 

ABRAMS:  I want to you respond to something because as you know, the mother of Joran, the wife of Paul has been speaking out recently and attacking I think your office and the investigation that has been done.  Let me let you listen to this sound—piece of sound and see if you want to respond to it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANITA VAN DER SLOOT, JORAN VAN DER SLOOT‘S MOTHER:  And it‘s—the nightmare is even getting worse.  This is not about Natalee anymore; this is about an enormous pressure from the States, media pressure.  This is political, economical.  It is just they don‘t know what to do and they need their fixes.  So it‘s really unbelievable what is going on, and it is really not about Natalee anymore. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Ms. Croes, that‘s a significant attack on your office and this investigation. 

CROES:  What I can say is that our office and the police team always work under one pressure only and that‘s the pressure to solve the case.  That is the pressure that we work under. 

ABRAMS:  And you don‘t want to respond specifically to her saying that effectively the reason that her husband has been arrested is because your office is getting political pressure and pressure from the media? 

CROES:  No.  I think I‘ve already answered by saying that the only pressure that we feel is, is the pressure to solve this case. 

ABRAMS:  The media attention must make it a little bit—you know sort of puts you under the spotlight, et cetera, right?  I am not saying it makes your investigation better or worse, but it must be something that is recognized by the people who are investigating, no?

CROES:  Of course, there is a lot of media attention here on the island, but that does not mean that the team cannot still be working on a professional level and complete this investigation. 

ABRAMS:  One more legal question.  You‘ve got a father and son in custody.  In this country, there is generally, generally a husband-wife privilege, which would mean that one can refuse to testify based on something that the husband or wife has told them.  There is not a parent-child privilege in this country generally.  Do you have a parent-child privilege there which would allow one of them to refuse to testify against the other. 

CROES:  Yes, the father or the son in this case, they can say I‘m not going to testify about my—about a member of my family.  I‘m not going to say anything about them. 

ABRAMS:  And then they wouldn‘t—they couldn‘t be forced to testify? 

CROES:  If they do not want to, they can say that because it‘s my—it‘s a family member of mine; I‘m not going to say anything. 

ABRAMS:  Can it be any family member?

CROES:  That is something that at this point I do know that your family, if you see it like father, mother and sons, but I‘m not very sure about the whole specific what...

ABRAMS:  Right, which level...

CROES:  ... which family members...

ABRAMS:  ... cousins, yes, yes...

CROES:  ... fall under the rules.  Yes...

ABRAMS:  Yes.  No, I understand.  OK. 

CROES:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Fair enough.  All right, Mariaine Croes, thank you so much for coming back on the program.  Obviously if anything else happens in the next half an hour, we‘d love for you to come back on the program and let us know.  We‘ll see you soon. 

Coming up, we‘ve got more on the search for Natalee.  We‘re going to talk with Joran Van Der Sloot‘s attorney.  How is his client doing? 

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, one of the last people to see Natalee Holloway, missing American teen in Aruba, on the night she disappeared changed his story.  His lawyer is up next, first the headlines. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  We‘ll be back in Aruba in a moment to talk to the attorney for Joran Van Der Sloot, a key suspect in Natalee Holloway‘s disappearance. 

But first want to update you on the explosions and fires that rocked St. Louis about an hour ago.  The ground around the Praxair gas plant shook as tanks of propane and other flammable gases exploded sending huge fireballs up to 150 feet into the sky.  Mushroom clouds.  There is no word yet as to what caused the blast, which apparently started in tanks outside the plant and maybe even inside the plant itself, although that‘s unclear at this point. 

There is also no word yet on any injuries, though Praxair says all of its employees were evacuated safely.  Homes and businesses in the area south of St. Louis, downtown, also evacuated.  For more, let‘s go to NBC News correspondent, Michelle Hofland in St. Louis. 

So Michelle, what is the latest?  Still all clear, and the fire dying down? 

MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Right now they are exactly trying to figure out exactly what caused this and what they can use to fight the fire with.  Because you know they‘re chemicals, they can‘t put fire on the chemicals.  Right now what I‘m seeing is that they are—there is some fire being put on some nearby fires, but those were the cars and the trucks that caught fire in this explosion. 

And Dan, by the way, just to give you some idea of exactly where this is for folks who have been to St. Louis, it‘s just about a mile southeast of the Union Station in St. Louis.  Just—you can see from where I am standing the St. Louis arch, the Union Station, the baseball station from here as well.  The problem what these firefighters are dealing with right now, Dan, it is hot.  It‘s about 100 degrees right now and also, it is windy.  So as we are standing here, the air keeps shifting and so we are having problems breathing this stuff and the firefighters had put—were monitoring to make sure that what we are breathing is safe for us to breathe. 

So it is a lot of things that they are trying to deal with right now.  As you said, that the interstate has been closed off and that is a main—a major interstate around here.  That‘s—and this is rush hour.  People are supposed to be going home and they can‘t get anywhere because the interstate is closed.  So it‘s causing a lot of problems, but the good news is, as you said, it appears at this time that there have been no injuries to report. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Michelle Hofland thanks very much.  Appreciate it. 

HOFLAND:  (INAUDIBLE) Thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Professor Glen Corbett is an expert on fire science from John Jay College and an assistant fire chief at the Waldwick Fire Department.  Thanks Professor for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  Have you ever seen a fire quite like this? 

PROF. GLEN CORBETT, FIRE SCIENCE EXPERT (via phone):  Actually I have...

ABRAMS:  Tell me. 

CORBETT:  ... seen one.  Well, although I think the chief actually mentioned earlier that these aren‘t very common, they do occur across the country.  These are facilities that take large quantities of gas and then repackages them for use in this case, the St. Louis area for other facilities that might need that particular type of gas.  So these do happen.  You know they do happen.  Not with great regularity, but they do occur.

ABRAMS:  What is it that causes the sort of what looked like almost a mushrooming of the fire? 

CORBETT:  Well basically you see those mushroom clouds erupting, those are the releases actually from the containers, those little containers, and they could be steel containers and things like that, small ones, large ones, they release their pressurized contents, you know, basically they go from a very high pressure to a very low-pressure situation and you get this fireball effect like you are seeing here.

ABRAMS:  When they build plants like this, are they required, or if they are not required, should they be required to prepare for something like this?  I mean because it seems fortunate that no one was hurt.  That no one in neighboring homes was hurt, et cetera.  Do they create them such that there‘s a distance between residential areas and a plant like this? 

CORBETT:  Well actually the fire codes or model fire codes used across the country do address facilities like this.  And there are very specific regulations in the types of containers they have to use, the spacing between them, type of fire protection that has to be provided.  But as far as where the facility is located, that actually falls outside the technical issues.  It becomes a zoning code issue for the local (INAUDIBLE) do they want to have a chemical plant next to a bunch of homes basically...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CORBETT:  Also one set of regulations I think that‘s important to recognize here also is that there are federal regulations that apply to facilities that use large amounts of hazardous materials like this...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CORBETT:  ... that allow the fire departments to be aware of what they store in the facility and the types of materials and the hazards and that type of thing...

ABRAMS:  Well so far good news...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  So far it appears no reports of injuries, so...

CORBETT:  It‘ll probably be investigated by federal agencies...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CORBETT:  ... like the U.S. Chemical Hazard Safety Board, so...

ABRAMS:  All right.  Professor thanks a lot for coming on the program.

CORBETT:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it.

Coming up, we‘ll talk to the attorney for Joran Van Der Sloot, a key witness in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba.  His client we are being told is probably being interrogated as we speak.  He‘ll talk to us about the case. 

And police in New Jersey in a desperate search for three boys last seen in a front yard.  We‘ll talk with the police chief leading the search. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, we‘ll go back to Aruba and talk with the attorney for the Dutch teen in custody in connection with Natalee Holloway‘s disappearance.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Police in Aruba are holding five men in connection with the disappearance of missing teen Natalee Holloway.  Paul Van Der Sloot, the father of a key suspect in the case, was arrested yesterday.  His son, Joran, has been held in prison and being interrogated for more than two weeks.  He was interrogated apparently today along with two other suspects, although it‘s important to note he has not been charged with anything yet; he is just a suspect at this point. 

But he‘s believed to be one of the last people to have seen Natalee before she went missing more than three weeks ago.  And his mother says that he has changed his story about where and how he parted with her.  Joining me now is Antonio Carlo, who is an Aruban attorney representing Joran Van Der Sloot.  Thank you very much, sir, for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

ANTONIO CARLO, JORAN VAN DER SLOOT‘S ATTORNEY:  Thank you.  You‘re welcome. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you about this interrogation.  I mean we were just talking to Mariaine Croes, who is the spokesperson for the prosecutor‘s office there and she was saying that your client could say I don‘t want to be interrogated anymore, talk to my lawyer.  He hasn‘t done that, has he? 

CARLO:  It is true that under the Aruban criminal procedural code, a suspect has the right to remain silent.  As it pertains to my client, you know I‘m not going to comment what his decision is with respect to that right. 

ABRAMS:  OK, but when she says that he has been brought in for an interrogation, you‘re actually not allowed to be present when that interrogation would occur, right? 

CARLO:  That‘s correct.  We have requested several times to be present during the interview of my client, but those requests have been denied every time. 

ABRAMS:  What do you make of his mother confirming that he initially said that he dropped her off at the Holiday Inn and then has changed his story and said that he left her on the beach and that she was unharmed when he left her?  But that he has changed his story? 

CARLO:  I mean I have heard those reports.  But I‘m not in a position to comment on those reports right now. 

ABRAMS:  All right. Well let me play a piece of sound.  This is from Anita Van Der Sloot. This is yesterday talking about this issue.  Because there was a lot of questions about exactly what he said, when he said it, and Anita then responded to that.  Do we have that ready?  OK, here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN DER SLOOT:  I think that if you are a 17-year-old boy under enormous pressure, you know a 17-year-old is a 17-year-old and maybe is not lying, but it is just like trying to cover up a little bit because you shouldn‘t be at 2:00 in the morning on a Monday morning, on the streets because that was not something that belonged to our house rules, so he might have just a bad conscience about that.  But there was no more lying and I think no further covering up.  So I really think that his statement is true. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Mr. Carlo, do you—what do you make of that? 

CARLO:  I did not hear her say that, you know, the statement that you reported.  I did not hear her say that, so I‘m not able to comment on that.

ABRAMS:  OK.  You know she said that though, right? 

CARLO:  I heard reports, but I‘m not—I do not know that she actually said it.  In the interview that you just...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CARLO:  ... repeated, I did not hear her say that. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  What she said is a 17-year-old is maybe not lying, but just trying to cover up a little bit because he shouldn‘t be at the—at 2:00 in the morning on the beach, right? 

CARLO:  I understand what you are asking me, but again, in the interview she did not say what you have just told me a moment ago. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  How is your client doing?  How is he holding up? 

CARLO:  He is holding up very well.  Of course, he has learned that his father has also been arrested.  That has, of course, you know caused a shock to him, but he is holding up. 

ABRAMS:  What was his reaction when he found out about that? 

CARLO:  I mean frankly speaking, he was expecting such a move by the police.  Because during interrogation, you know, they have been telling him yes, you know, that they were going to arrest also his father. 

ABRAMS:  Do you expect that he‘s going to be formally charged or do you think he‘ll be released? 

CARLO:  OK, right now he is being detained on a—I mean I consider it to be a charge.  He is being detained based on an order of a judge, which stipulates, you know, that he is suspected of some crime.  So based on that order, he is now arrested.  And that, in my mind, is a charge under Aruban law. 

ABRAMS:  But there is another step, is there not before he would—sort of now he is considered a suspect, although formal charges have not yet been filed.  Is that fair to say under Aruban law? 

CARLO:  I mean there is a difference as it pertains to this stage of the proceedings.  Right now he is being detained as I said on the basis of an order of a judge. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

CARLO:  When the investigation is ready and the prosecutor is ready to bring the case to trial, then he will be accused, formally accused...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CARLO:  ... with some type of a crime. 

ABRAMS:  Do you expect that to happen? 

CARLO:  No, it is now too early to say.  It‘s—we are now at the beginning stages of the criminal proceeding, so it‘s difficult to say what the prosecutor is going to do. 

ABRAMS:  Antonio Carlo, thank you very much for taking the time.  We appreciate it. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Switch, switch...

ABRAMS:  And as you heard that switch, switch.  What they‘re going to do is they‘re going to switch.  Antonio Carlo is going to leave and we‘re going to be joined by an attorney and former Aruban police lieutenant in Aruba.  Milko Baiz joins us now.  Thank you very much for taking the time to come on the program. 

All right.  So look, he has to be...

MILKO BAIZ, FORMER ARUBAN POLICE LIEUTENANT AND ATTORNEY:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Mr. Carlo has to be very careful in what he says.  His client is here.  You are a former police lieutenant there, so you can talk to us a little more honestly about your assessment of what is happening.  Do you think that the father has been arrested to get the son to talk? 

BAIZ:  Well, I don‘t have details to say whether that is the case, but I guess that during the investigation, the police must have some circumstantial cause to arrest Mr. Van Der Sloot. 

ABRAMS:  What do you make of wiretaps?  Are they used often in Aruba? 

BAIZ:  They are used.  They are used often, but they have to have more than just—if somebody is arrested, and there is a suspicion of a crime and the wiretaps can be used.  They must be ordered by a judge of instruction. 

ABRAMS:  What do you make of the case so far?  I mean you have these three who were supposedly one of the last ones to see, if not the last one to see Natalee alive.  Then you‘ve got this D.J. who‘s been arrested and now you‘ve got the father arrested.  What—your sources in the office you used to work in telling you anything about what is going on? 

BAIZ:  No, no.  I haven‘t got any information from the police or anywhere else about this case.  It has been—they have been very tightlipped on it, so there are no leaks.  But I guess in the interests of the investigation, they are holding all these people and during—in the course of the investigation, at the end we will know what they have or what they don‘t have. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Milko Baiz thanks a lot for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

Coming up, three New Jersey boys disappear from their frond yard.  Police say they‘ve got no clues.  They are asking for your help.  It‘s up next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Police in New Jersey have been searching for three boys who disappeared from a front yard two days ago.  Now, they say they are looking for a 28-year-old man who may have seen something.  Five-year-old Jesstin Pagan, 6-year-old Daniel Agosto and 11-year-old Anibal Cruz were last seen Wednesday night in Camden, New Jersey.  The boys‘ parents made tearful pleas for their return earlier today.  Now police say they want to talk to this man, Angel Martinez, about what he may know about this case. 

Joining me now with the latest on the search for the boys is Camden Police Chief Edwin Figueroa.  Chief thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  So what do we know about...

CHIEF EDWIN FIGUEROA, CAMDEN, NJ POLICE DEPT.:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  ... what do we know about this witness? 

FIGUEROA:  We—Dan, we know very little right now.  This is very early in the investigation as it deals with Angel Martinez.  What we have is that this individual may be a possible witness and what we have been doing with all the leads is, as we get a lead, we either try to confirm that lead or not confirm it.  So we will actually know a lot more information about what he knows when we locate Mr. Martinez. 

And we‘re asking for the public, if anybody should know who—know where he is, that to please give us a call so we can talk to Mr. Martinez.  And as I indicated earlier, we‘re only looking at Mr. Martinez as a witness.  We don‘t know fully exactly what he may know involving this case.  But again, we‘re following every lead.  And anyone that gives us any information, we‘re going to talk to them. 

ABRAMS:  The three—there‘s no—you are not convinced, are you, that the three kids were taken or kidnapped, right? 

FIGUEROA:  Well, it‘s not whether I am convinced or not.  It‘s just that we do not have any evidence to show that they have.  And what we are doing is we‘re looking at this investigation as if anything could have happened here. 

ABRAMS:  When you say anything, the possibility they could have walked away for example? 

FIGUEROA:  The possibility that they may have walked away.  And also the possibility that they could have been abducted, but we have no evidence to prove either one. 

ABRAMS:  How long does the mother say she turned away or wasn‘t watching the children for? 

FIGUEROA:  Well, we spoke to the mother; she says that she only turned away for a few minutes, maybe five minutes at the most. 

ABRAMS:  And what is—give us a sense of the surrounding area there where you know the kids might be able to stray, et cetera.  You know we‘ve heard horrible stories about kids, small kids walking into lakes or swimming pools, et cetera, and drowning. 

FIGUEROA:  Well, it‘s a residential area and maybe about a half a mile away there is a park there in Cramer Hill where you have brush, weeds and then it leads to the river and that‘s the Delaware River.  It divides the city of Camden and Philadelphia.

ABRAMS:  But we should—you know, of course I ask that question and we should be careful to point out that you don‘t know where they have gone or not gone.  All we know is that all three of them are missing.  How long have they been missing for now? 

FIGUEROA:  They went missing Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. and we received the call at about 8:00 or 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday. 

ABRAMS:  Why no Amber Alert here? 

FIGUEROA:  We contacted the state police, but there is a protocol for the Amber Alert and the protocol is that you must have proof of an abduction and you must have a description of the vehicle.  However, let me just say this, with the media coverage that we‘ve had and the support from the media providing information on the three children and all the descriptions, it‘s been very, very helpful and we‘re glad that the media has worked with us.

ABRAMS:  With that in mind let‘s do this.  Chief, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  If you‘ve got any information...

FIGUEROA:  My pleasure.

ABRAMS:  ... on the three missing boys, please call the tip hot line, 877-345-TIPS or 215-546-TIPS.  Those are the numbers.

And if you want to donate to the reward for the missing boys, you can send the contribution to the Philadelphia Citizens Crime Commission, 1218 Chestnut Street, Suite 406, Philadelphia, 19107. 

If you didn‘t get to write it all down, you can go to our Web site, abramsreport.msnbc.com. 

Coming up, a lot of your e-mails coming up and a lot of you not happy with a big Supreme Court ruling from yesterday about the ability of a government to take away someone‘s land and their house.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the government can take away private property, people‘s homes, by paying for it, not just to build a school or highway but even to build a private development, shopping mall, office buildings.  A lot of you upset with the court.

From Utah, Brandon Smith, “Fair market price?  What about the time finding a new place, relocating kids that are in school, closing costs and all the other fees one gets when moving?”

From Tim Kelley from California, “We may disagree with the government‘s use of the property and should have some means to affect decisions made by governmental bodies, but under the Constitution the government had always had the ability to take property for the common good.”

From Pennsylvania, Krys Adkins, “What will keep local government officials from using their power to take the homes of citizens they wish to punish for lack of political support?”

Yesterday Aruban police arrested the father of a Dutch suspect being held in connection with Natalee‘s disappearance.  Last night Anita Van Der Sloot blamed her husband‘s arrest on pressure from the U.S. and the media.  My guest, a family friend just blamed the media. 

From Illinois, Jill Fahlgren, “I‘m sure that there is a lot of pressure by the media and others, but blaming the media for everything is getting very old.  Besides, it‘s a pretty big insult to the Aruban officials handling the case, don‘t you think?”

We‘re out of time.  Thanks for watching.  Have a great weekend.  I‘ll see you Monday.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,