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3 men detained not yet charged in disappearance



Published: Fri, July 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Formal charges are expected Monday.

ORANJESTAD, Aruba (AP) -- Aruba's chief government spokesman said Friday that three young men detained in the disappearance of an Alabama teenager have not been formally charged but could be as soon as Monday.

Earlier, Aruba's attorney general, Karin Janssen, told The Associated Press that the young men had been charged with murder since their arrest three weeks ago.

"The three have been charged with the murder of Natalee Holloway from the beginning" of their arrest 10 days after the young woman went missing May 30, she said in a recorded interview. "At the time, we didn't want to upset the family talking about murder while they searched."

The attorney general and other Aruban officials have said for weeks that no one has been charged in the 18-year-old's disappearance. Janssen said authorities also withheld information about the charges in order not to compromise their investigation. Authorities have said they have no physical evidence suggesting Holloway is dead.

The government spokesman, Ruben Trapenberg, contacted the AP following the English-language interview with Janssen.

"This is a question of semantics. It's been a problem since Day One," Trapenberg said. "The charging is a formal process that happens later on. It could happen as soon as Monday."

Return calls to Janssen were not immediately returned.

Arraignments

Trapenberg did not clarify what charges could be filed against the three. They had been scheduled to go before a judge Monday to learn whether their detentions would be extended another 60 days. Under Dutch law that governs Aruba, a protectorate of the Netherlands, detainees can be held 116 days before being charged by a judge.

Janssen said 17-year-old Joran van der Sloot and two Surinamese brothers who are his friends have been charged since their arrest June 9 -- 10 days after the disappearance of Holloway. The teen disappeared on the last day of a five-day vacation with 124 students from Mountain Brook, Ala., celebrating their high school graduation.




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