Attorneys for Joran van der Sloot and Holloway Family React to News From Aruba

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," December 18, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Off the hook. Last month, the three main suspects in Natalee Holloway's disappearance were rearrested because the new chief prosecutor claimed he had new incriminating evidence. But now the case against them is being dismissed due to lack of evidence.

In a statement today, the prosecutor's office said, in part, "Although the public prosecutor's office did see and still sees possibilities to prove that Natalee Holloway is no longer alive, the fact that her body never was found forms an important deficit in a possible reconstruction of the facts. This does not imply that if new serious evidence were to be found, this case could never be tried in court again. This is still possible within the statute of limitation."

In Aruba, that's 6 years for manslaughter, 12 for murder.

One of the suspects released from jail earlier this month was Joran van der Sloot. Joran's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, joins us live from New York. Good evening, Joe. And how did you first hear that — essentially, that your client would not be charged?

JOE TACOPINA, ATTORNEY FOR JORAN VAN DER SLOOT: I saw my cell phone ring with Joran's number. Of course, immediately, you know, I'm thinking, Oh, God, I'm going to be in Aruba again next week, or something like that. But he said, I have good news for you today. I just got the paper. I'm no longer a suspect there. They're closing the case against me.

That was around noon today, Greta. And certainly, it was very good news. I mean, the family — I spoke to Anita and Paulus. They're — you know, they feel vindicated. They feel relieved. Hopefully, now Joran can get on with his life, get into school, get back to school and just try and put this very sorry chapter behind him.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you say he got the paper, do you mean, like, something was delivered to him, like a legal document...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... or a newspaper? What do you mean, "the paper"?

TACOPINA: Yes, it was, like, a legal document. It was in Dutch, so I had it translated to me. But it was a document basically two pages that, you know, went through their reasoning as to why Joran is no longer a suspect, that there is no evidence against him, that there's no evidence, as the appellate court said, that if Natalee is dead, she died by a violent hand. And certainly, there's no evidence indicating that Joran had anything to do with her disappearance.

You know, it would have been nice if they said that three weeks ago, before locking him up again for the second time, and you know, going out on this parade of television interviews, falsifying statements in a Mike Nifong-ish way, saying they had new serious stuff, incriminating evidence, which they never had. But it came in a court document today, so you know, there is vindication.

VAN SUSTEREN: Explain to me, Joe, I — when I first heard the news, I sort of shrugged my shoulders. I thought, yes? So what? Because here's the thing, is that the news was that charges aren't going to be brought against him. However, charges could be later brought against him if there were something discovered. So, like, I don't get it.

TACOPINA: You know, it's their self-imposed deadline, December 31, Greta, where they decided — look, Joran has been a suspect since day one. For two-and-a-half years, he's been, quote, "a suspect." There's peculiarities to the Aruban law, the Dutch law, that now Joran is no longer a suspect And for him to ever be investigated again, they have to go to a court this time, get permission initially before they even open a book against him again and come with powerful and pervasive evidence, not some new theory of some old phone calls, which is what brought us here in the first place.

The case is closed against Joran. There's never going to be any evidence against him regarding Natalee because he had nothing to do with her disappearance. You know, and to boot, in today's press release from the prosecutor, I noticed that they left open the possibility that Joran was still — or they speculated, Greta, that Joran and the Kalpoes perhaps were still involved. And I just thought that was an incredible statement of a coward.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think it's...

TACOPINA: Of a coward.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think it's so much a speculation. I mean, prosecutors always think that whoever they arrest is, you know, guilty.

TACOPINA: Yes, but Greta...

VAN SUSTEREN: So I mean, I guess that I wasn't moved by that.

TACOPINA: ... the prosecutor should not be speculating like people in the court of public opinion do. This is a court of law. And in a court document, you don't say, We don't have any evidence that he was involved, yet we still suspect perhaps he may be involved. That's the statement of a coward. That's intellectually offensive, and it's unprofessional. And if he had the guts, he'd bring a case, if he really believed in that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you call the prosecutor today?

TACOPINA: I tried. He was a little busy.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why did you want to talk to him?

TACOPINA: You know, I wanted confirmation, number one. Number two, I wanted to get his take, if he had a new take — because we had a conversation a week-and-a-half ago, Greta, two weeks ago, that was a very different conversation than what I saw him write today in some court papers.

And you know, we tried to reach him. As I said, I guess he was busy. He couldn't make the last court appearance, either, so perhaps he was tied up. But you know, I will tell you that when I read what I read today, compared to what I saw him say on your show on that exclusive interview you did with him, Greta, I got to tell you, it made my blood boil because what he said was absolutely inconsistent with a week-and-a-half later. What he put in papers.

And there never was new evidence. There's never been new incriminating evidence. And today really was the day that justice was done, not for the Holloway family, who I'm sure is disappointed again. And we feel for them, and believe me when I tell you the Van der Sloot family feels for them. But Joran had nothing to do with her disappearance. And so he was victimized. His family was victimized again. And today is a day of vindication.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Day of vindication for Joran van der Sloot. Can you tell me that your client is 100 percent certain that the Kalpoe brothers had nothing to do with her disappearance?

TACOPINA: Well, no. That would be silly because he left Natalee at a particular point certain at 2:40-ish in the morning, was on his home computer 15 minutes later, 20 minutes later. So clearly, he can't say, I certainly know X, Y and Z didn't happen to Natalee, after that fact.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did they...

TACOPINA: But we're not going to speculate. We're not going to do what other people...

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm not asking you to speculate, either.

TACOPINA: Well, certainly (INAUDIBLE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Did Joran — did the Kalpoe brothers ever say anything at all to your client that makes him even remotely suspicious that they went back or did something?

TACOPINA: Not even a little bit, Greta. And if I go back to that one tape that I think is the watershed mark in this case, that surreptitious recording that the police put that bug in the police car after these three kids spent three months in jail — basically, the cops lied to them and said, Look, the other guys have implicated you. And if you listen to that tape, clearly, all three of them have no clue what happened to Natalee Holloway in June of 2005 when they're having this conversation, no clue whatsoever.

VAN SUSTEREN: One last quick question. We talked to a neighbor who said that the night Natalee disappeared, that in the middle of the night, someone was hosing down the car at the Kalpoe residence. Does your client — does he know anything about whether or not they did that? Number one, whether he believes it to be true, and number two, did he think it was peculiar?

TACOPINA: He has no idea whether it's true. There's been so many — this case has been larded with false rumors. But he has no idea whether...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the guy told us. Just so you know, is that the neighbor told me, so — that he saw that.

TACOPINA: Yes, I know, but witnesses have created false evidence in this case, and we know that, so I'm not so worried about what someone said to you. But here's the bottom line. Joran has no idea, is not going to speculate to one's guilt or innocence. He knows what he did and didn't do, and he had nothing to do with her disappearance.

VAN SUSTEREN: And Joe, get I spent a lot of time interviewing him, asking him a lot of questions.

TACOPINA: You sure did.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I have said since I spent that time with him that I'm inclined to believe him. You know, I wouldn't say I would totally believe him, but until it's solved, obviously, that small window that I've been tricked.

TACOPINA: And it was your interview, Greta — it was your interview that I think was the watershed mark in sort of getting the public to really understand that perhaps we jumped to conclusions in this case.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, anyway, tell Joran that — you know, good luck, and we hope he does well in school. And I hope, ultimately, that the case is solved for the benefit of the Holloway family. Anyway, thank you, Joe.

TACOPINA: Thanks, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: John Q. Kelly, lawyer for Natalee Holloway's parents, joins us live from New York. John, I can only imagine that — because I know that the Holloway parents are convinced that Joran and the Kalpoe brothers are responsible for her disappearance. I've always — I mean, not always, but since I spent time with Joran, I said I'm inclined to believe Joran. I remain suspicious of the Kalpoes. Your thoughts tonight?

JOHN Q. KELLY, ATTORNEY FOR NATALEE'S PARENTS: Just generally, it's — you know, it's been a difficult last month because of the spectacle that was made with the re-arrest of the three suspects. You know, privately, this isn't a different day for Beth and Dave. We had talked about this a month ago. I knew this after talking to the prosecutor a month ago that, you know, there wasn't significant new evidence in the context of being able to prosecute a case. So I had sort of, you know, seasoned them for that.

And you know, they're just sad today. They're sad every day. There's a loss there. There's an emptiness there. And they still are looking for answers, and they're going to continue to look for answers. They've got the aquatic search going on right now. We have the opportunity to go down there now and review the investigative files and decide whether we want to make an appeal directly to the appellate courts to — on their decision not to prosecute.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, you said that look at the investigative files.


VAN SUSTEREN: I would love to see those files. You know, it's like we've been kept sort of afar. I mean, I'd love to have us have the opportunity to sort of dig in and compare and contrast and to go out and try to find facts. But the Aruban prosecutor and the police, by virtue of the way they do things there, have kept it away, so we couldn't even — we were seen as a hindrance, and in some instances we can actually help with the investigation. But here we were seen as, you know, a problem.

KELLY: Well, at this point now, I have the right, as a representative of the victim's family, to go down there and view the entire file. And Hans Mos (ph) has assured me that I'll be able to do that at some point, if I choose to. And I'm sure we will choose to.

VAN SUSTEREN: And it's in Dutch, so we all have to do something about that.

KELLY: Everything's been in Dutch. I've had a little help along the way, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, there were so many people that seemed — I was always sort of — I wished that the police would have talked to. You know, there were people on the beach that night that seemed to have slipped through the cracks. Do you feel the same way?

KELLY: Well, I think there are a lot of things that weren't done. I mean, you had a teenage girl that disappeared in the middle of the night, with no credit cards, no cell phone, no money, no identification, nothing. She was clearly a missing person, and you know, something nefarious had happened. And the police knew this within the first 48 hours.

And quite frankly, if Beth hadn't gone down there, and then Dave and yourself, Greta, and started, you know, pounding on them a little bit, you'd probably have Dompig and Jacobs still doing crossword puzzles in the police station there.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what upsets me is — look, I don't care if people take swipes at me, but when people send us notes taking swipes at Beth and Dave, they truly don't get it, what these parents are going through. They truly don't get what it was like going down there when the heat is 130 degrees. They were going up and down in landfills, looking for their daughter, trying to get information. They were getting the runaround, no information. And it's like doing anything any parent would try to do. You know, these two loved their daughter and they want information. And they got such an appearance of a runaround. I guess it bothers me when I see people take swipes at them. They just don't get it.

KELLY: Greta, it was horrible. You know what? I think Beth and Dave just conducted themselves, you know, beyond reproach. And they were calm. They were focused. But they certainly conducted themselves in a proper manner. I mean, myself, a lot of other people, if they knew their child had been last seen down there and there were answers down there and they couldn't find their child, you know, hell would have had no wrath for, you know, a lot of people down there in that same situation.

They've just been dignified and they've done a lot of their suffering in silence and they were really hurting. They've been hurting. But they're going to continue the search, and they want answers, and they do want to bring Natalee Holloway home.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, just a cross-section — you know, I got e-mails from people here in the United States who are quite lovely and gracious, and then the ones who took nasty swipes. Likewise, when we were down in Aruba, a lot of wonderful Arubans, but there were some that would say, Go home, not wanting — not understanding, you know, the anguish of parents trying to go through this. And you know, it actually surprised me that the parents were so reserved on television because I'm not so sure that, you know, I would have. I always respected them for that.

KELLY: You know, the problem also was, Greta, they sort of had to be. This was a foreign country. You know, the answers were down there. The resources were down there. The only real help they could get was down there. And they sort of had to walk a fine line. They just knew the work wasn't being done. They knew the effort wasn't being made at the beginning. But they sort of had to play ball with them nonetheless because something was better than nothing. But it hasn't been enough. And you know, I just — I really, you know, feel for them right now, especially.

VAN SUSTEREN: And actually, I also feel for Robin, Dave's wife, and for Jug, who was married to Beth, because they likewise suffered, and — you know, and every parent that we deal with who have lost children to these mysteries, it's extremely painful. And you know, no one wants to be walking in their shoes.

Anyway, John, thank you. I hope that you do get down and take a look at that investigative file. If you want us to help, we'd be happy to look through it, as well.

KELLY: I'm sure you will, Greta. Thanks.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... if we can get our hands on it. So we're around. Anyway, thank you, John.

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