AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – A former suspect in the disappearance in Aruba of American teenager Natalee Holloway told a Dutch newspaper he regretted that he was not formally prosecuted for any crime.
Dutch teen Joran van der Sloot, 20, was re-arrested in Aruba in November for a new interrogation about Holloway's disappearance in 2005. But public prosecutors on the island closed their investigation Dec. 18, saying they believed Holloway was dead but they did not have enough evidence to prosecute van der Sloot or two other former suspects.
"I would have liked to have seen a trial so that everything could be out in the open," van der Sloot told newspaper DAG in his first public remarks since being released on Dec. 7. The newspaper published excerpts from the interview Sunday. DAG spokesman Bob Witman said the interview was conducted via e-mail with van der Sloot in Aruba, where he is currently staying.
All three suspects denied any involvement in Holloway's disappearance.
Van der Sloot denied there was any new evidence to prompt his arrest again last month, as prosecutors had asserted.
"There was no new evidence at all," he told the paper. "Dutch detectives tried to get me to talk for 15 days. They told me that Natalee was dead."
Prosecutors say their new evidence was a statement by one of the suspects during a tapped Internet chat in which he said Holloway was dead. But defense lawyers denied that.
Van der Sloot said he believed his latest arrest was intended to please American media.
"I've been declared guilty without any factual evidence and I'm left to prove my innocence," he told the paper.
Prosecutors said as things stand, the case can be reactivated if "serious" new evidence emerges. Reactivating the case would be impossible however if they were to prosecute and fail, due to rules against double jeopardy.
Holloway was on a high school graduation trip to the island when she vanished May 30, 2005, hours before she was to return home to Mountain Brook, Ala. Extensive searches of the island turned up no trace of her.
The three former suspects, who are the last people known to have seen her, initially said they dropped Holloway off at her hotel.
After hotel security cameras disproved that, they were arrested and van der Sloot said he left her alone on a beach and had no idea how she disappeared.