A suspect arrested in the Netherlands in connection with the disappearance in Aruba of American teenager Natalee Holloway was released from detention Tuesday, a Dutch court official said.
The release of the suspect, identified only as Guido W. because of Dutch privacy laws, means he will not be transferred to the Caribbean island, said the court official, Martine de Bruijn.
His arrest briefly revived hope Monday of solving the case, with a defense lawyer saying for the first time that Aruban authorities believe she was murdered.
Guido W. was said to be a croupier at the hotel casino where Holloway was staying when she disappeared a year ago during a high school graduation trip to the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba. The suspect was subsequently identified on television broadcasts as Guido Wever.
In an interview with Dutch NOS television Sunday, lawyer Gerard Spong said Aruban authorities suspected his client of “assisting in the murder, battery and kidnapping of Natalee Holloway.”
Wever’s parents said in a statement that their son was “innocent until proven guilty,” and they “cannot believe that he could have anything to do with the case.”
Exhaustive but fruitless search
The suspect was arrested and jailed Wednesday in Utrecht and was interrogated by Dutch police at the direction of Aruban prosecutors. He was not formally charged.
Holloway, of Mountain Brook, Ala., was 18 when she disappeared. She was last seen leaving a bar with three young men on May 30, 2005, the last night of her trip to Aruba.
Spong said his client is a friend of Joran van der Sloot — the last person known to have seen Holloway alive. Van der Sloot says he left Holloway alone on a beach after they kissed.
While Aruban authorities are keeping all options open, they believe Holloway is most likely dead and buried on the island. Police in Aruba say prevailing currents would have likely washed her body ashore if she drowned or her body was thrown into the sea.
In January, Aruban police fruitlessly searched sand dunes on the northwest coast of the island. Later, they said Holloway may have died from alcohol and drugs complications.
Dutch marines, the Aruban coast guard, the FBI and hundreds of volunteers have also searched the island and coastal areas for Holloway, to no avail.
Authorities have arrested eight people in Holloway’s disappearance and released them for lack of evidence. The latest suspect was questioned three times in Aruba shortly after Holloway’s disappearance and twice later by Dutch authorities, Spong said.
Karin Janssen, a public prosecutor in Aruba, declined to comment.
Police in Utrecht also declined comment, refusing even to confirm the arrest and saying they were acting under orders from Aruban prosecutors.
Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported Monday that Wever was doing a three-month internship at the casino in the Marriott Hotel in Aruba when Holloway disappeared.
The paper cited an employee of the hotel as saying Guido W. left Aruba in June, before his internship was finished, to study in the Netherlands.
A spokesman for the Marriott did not return calls seeking comment.
“We hope and pray the girl is found alive,” the statement by Guido W.’s parents said. “We now face the fact that our son has been arrested and we hope and pray everything will come out all right for him. In fact we do not expect otherwise, for he is a caring person and very much liked by all.”
Holloway’s parents are attempting to sue Van der Sloot, 18, in a New York court. Their suit alleges he imprisoned and sexually assaulted Holloway, and caused her disappearance.