AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – The surprise arrest of a new suspect in the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway has revived hopes of solving the case, with a Dutch defense lawyer saying for the first time that Aruban authorities believe she was murdered on the Caribbean island last year.
Lawyer Gerard Spong identified his client only as "Guido W." — citing Dutch privacy laws — who was a croupier at the hotel casino where Holloway was staying when she disappeared last May during a high school graduation trip.
In an interview with Dutch NOS television late Sunday, Spong said Aruban authorities suspect his client of "assisting in the murder, battery and kidnapping of Natalee Holloway."
In a statement, Guido W.'s parents said their son was "innocent until proven guilty," and they "cannot believe that he could have anything to do with the case."
The youth was arrested and jailed last Wednesday in the city of Utrecht and has been undergoing interrogation by Dutch police at the direction of Aruban prosecutors since then. He has not been formally charged.
He was expected to be released on Tuesday after his attorney and the Aruban prosecutor's office worked out a deal, the Nancy Grace show on CNN Headline News reported late Monday. Aruban Prosecutor Karin Janssen declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.
Guido W. was reportedly working at the Holiday Inn where Holloway was staying.
Spong's office said Monday he would contest a move by Aruban authorities to have his client brought there for arraignment. The case will be heard Tuesday.
Court officials in The Hague said Spong, one of the most famous defense attorneys in the Netherlands, had filed suit against the Dutch state to prevent the transfer.
Court spokeswoman A. Van Rens said that because Aruba is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the transfer would usually be no more difficult to accomplish than moving a suspect between any two Dutch cities.
Holloway, of Mountain Brook, Alabama, was 18 when she disappeared. She was last seen leaving a bar with three young men on May 30, the final night of her high school graduation trip to the Dutch Caribbean island.
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 the pair kissed.
While Aruban authorities are keeping all options open, they believe Holloway is most likely dead and buried somewhere 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 with more than 50 officers. 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 of Aruba for Holloway, to no avail.
Authorities previously arrested nine people in connection with Holloway's disappearance and then released them for lack of evidence.
Holloway's mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, said Monday she was glad that there had been an arrest but she wasn't "getting her hopes up" after previous arrests failed to lead to charges. Twitty spoke at Lonoke High School in Arkansas.
"An arrest is better than no arrest, so hopefully it will bring about something," she said. But, "I think we really got caught up with the arrest of G.V.C.," referring to to suspect Geoffrey van Cromvoirt, who was arrested and released last month.
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 prosecutor in Aruba's public prosecutor's office, 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.