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Two Aruba suspects ordered released

Judge freed after hearing; DJ also being let go


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Crime, Law and Justice

ORANJESTAD, Aruba (CNN) -- Aruban police Sunday released the father of a suspect in the disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, hours after a judge ordered him and another suspect let go.

Paul Van Der Sloot, 53, was arrested Thursday. At a hearing Sunday, the judge ordered him released after finding "no sufficient suspicion for guilt," defense attorney Arie Swaen said.

Van Der Sloot, an Aruban judge himself, is the father of suspect Joran Van Der Sloot, 17, who has been in custody since June 9 along with brothers Satish Kalpoe, 18, and Deepak Kalpoe, 21.

The three youths, who were with Holloway, 18, when she was last reported seen in the early hours of May 30, also appeared in court Sunday and will remain detained for at least another eight days.

Earlier Sunday, the attorney for Steve Croes -- a 26-year-old disc jockey arrested in the case June 17 -- said his client would be freed by Monday afternoon due to a lack of evidence against him.

Croes' mother collapsed from emotion outside the courtroom after the judge announced his release.

No formal charges have been filed in the case. Prosecutors said Croes and the three younger suspects were held in connection with possible charges of first- or second-degree murder and kidnapping resulting in death.

Attorneys for Croes, the Kalpoes and Van Der Sloot have said the men are innocent.

Asked whether Holloway's relatives felt the releases were a setback, the girl's father, Dave Holloway, said his focus remains on finding his daughter, not on the investigation.

"I still feel like he ... has some answers," he said of Paul Van Der Sloot. "But if we find Natalee, that will resolve the whole thing."

Croes was arrested after one of the three youths named him, Police Commissioner Jan Van Der Straten said at the time.

The party boat where Croes works docks about 1,000 feet from the Holiday Inn where Holloway was staying.

The judge presiding in Sunday's hearings was flown in from the nearby island of Curacao to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

He heard the case against each suspect separately in a proceeding lasting more than four hours.

Paul Van Der Sloot, who is relatively new to the bench, had been denied access to his son since the teen was arrested. (Full story)

He was questioned twice by police before his arrest and underwent interrogation afterward as well, authorities have said.

Van Der Straten refused to say if Paul Van Der Sloot was cooperative. His wife, Anita Van Der Sloot, dropped some towels and other items off at the jail Saturday, but was not allowed to see her husband.

Fourth release

Four people have now been ordered released from custody in the case. Security guards Abraham Jones, 28, and Mickey John, 30, were released June 13 after eight days in custody.

David Kock, defense attorney for Satish Kalpoe, said Sunday he felt the investigation was moving in the right direction, noting that police scrutinized cell phone records and Internet traffic as part of the probe.

Kock said those records show Joran Van Der Sloot called Deepak Kalpoe about 2:40 a.m. on the morning Holloway disappeared.

The lawyer said in that call, according to Deepak Kalpoe's statements, Joran Van Der Sloot told Kalpoe he left Holloway on the beach and was walking home.

Koch said that about 40 minutes later -- about the time it would take him to walk home -- Joran Van Der Sloot text-messaged Deepak Kalpoe to tell him he had arrived.

"I just think this goes to show that the story that Deepak and Satish are telling ... is substantiated by facts," Kock said.

Antonio Carlo, defense attorney for Joran Van Der Sloot, said Sunday his client was in good spirits, but was "shocked and disturbed" by his father's arrest.

Team continues search

Elsewhere on the island Sunday, a 27-member team based in Texas continued its search for Holloway.

Sunday's plans included using side-scan sonar on a dive boat, said Texas EquuSearch spokesman Joe Huston.

Four dogs that accompanied the team were to work most of the day -- skipping the middle period when their sense of smell is less acute, Huston said.

He said the group would like more volunteers and hoped residents would donate drinking water and some meals.

On Saturday, part of the team searched a wetlands and the northern tip of the island near a lighthouse, using a dog to comb the beaches.

Shifting stories

Prosecution spokeswoman Mariaine Croes said charges -- if any -- will not be filed until the investigation is complete and evidence is reviewed by prosecutors.

Under Aruban law, authorities can arrest a suspect based on reasonable suspicion, unlike in the United States, where police must have probable cause.

Prosecutors can ask judges to approve three eight-day extensions of detention, followed by two longer extensions.

Mariaine Croes said suspects may be held up to 116 days -- and in rare cases, even longer -- before charges are filed, to allow evidence-gathering to continue.

Holloway, from the Birmingham, Alabama, suburb of Mountain Brook, was last seen about 1:30 a.m. May 30 as she left a nightclub with Joran Van Der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers.

She was on a trip to Aruba with about 100 classmates to celebrate their high school graduation and were accompanied by a few parent-chaperones.

The Kalpoe brothers and Joran Van Der Sloot initially told prosecutors they dropped Holloway off at the Holiday Inn, were she was staying.

But police have said that story fell apart under questioning, and no evidence has been found to show Holloway ever returned to the hotel.

The Kalpoes' mother said one of her sons had admitted lying to protect Joran Van Der Sloot, and said he and his brother took the Dutch youth and Holloway to a beach and dropped them off.

Anita Van Der Sloot said her son had also changed his story and admitted being alone with Holloway on the beach, saying he left her there because she wanted to stay there.

CNN's Karl Penhaul and Kim Segal contributed to this report.

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