Joran van der Sloot's Attorney Responds to Taped 'Confession'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," February 4, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: The tape is out, Joran van der Sloot apparently caught on tape saying he had a friend dump Natalee's body in the ocean. Last week, Joran's lawyer said Joran wasn't worried. But what about today? Here with me is Joe Tacopina, Joran van der Sloot's lawyer. And I will say one thing, Joe, is that who hasn't had a client who talks? But anyway, you've got a mess on your hands.

JOE TACOPINA, JORAN VAN DER SLOOT'S ATTORNEY: You know, the days when you question going to law school and things like that. But I'll get over it and get through it. I have a mess on my hands that Joran created, and you know, he really has a mess on his hands that he created with his own mouth, and to a degree, with his attitude. And he did some very stupid, very hurtful things. And you know, it's hard for me, Greta, to sit here and look you in the eye and say, But you should believe him when he says he was lying about that.

So what I'm going to do is say take his word out of the picture. Whatever he said to you that -- you know, in your exclusive interview, extensive interview with him, whatever he said in the past, because he's told so many different versions, he really isn't someone who I think you can say, Let's evaluate what he says and see if it's truthful. I say look at the evidence in this case. Put his words aside. Whatever his version, put it aside...

VAN SUSTEREN: Here's the difference, though. When he spoke to us, for instance, he knew we were going to wrap it around the world in primetime. And so he was necessarily guarded. I said I was inclined to believe him, not totally -- I left a window open because I've been lied to.


VAN SUSTEREN: I've been a lawyer long enough to know that I've gotten lied to, and lied to by the best. And then -- but when he got caught on camera, he didn't -- I mean, when he got caught in this car, it was secret. I mean, he didn't know it was going to go around the world.

TACOPINA: Yes, it was secret, but there were circumstances that I think we need to put that in context. There were 20 hours of tape. I've read the transcripts of those 20 hours, and it's a book. It's not the three minutes that people have seen. First of all, throughout all of these conversations, this individual, Peter, is giving -- is has an undercover operative. Even though he's a journalist, he's giving Joran Van Der Sloot marijuana.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which is legal in Holland.

TACOPINA: Well, it's not legal in a car. It's legal in certain locations, OK?

VAN SUSTEREN: All right.

TACOPINA: So it's not legal. And moreover, it's certainly not a sound interrogation tactic. I mean, imagine if the police started giving drugs to the people they started questioning, and it's, OK, now tell us the story. You know, so that happened throughout. This person posed as a major criminal who was, you know, doing all these things and telling Joran all the bad things he had done and yet supplying him with drugs and money and things of that nature. And you know, he decided he was going to let him know, yes, well, I'm -- you know, I'm a tough guy, too. I can do these certain things. He lied about so many things regarding cuts on his face, how he got them...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, let's actually -- one of the things I asked you to do is to put together a bunch of these so that we can -- you know, we have a fair organization (ph). We have a graphic that we can put up. Let's just run right through them, put them up on the screen for the viewers.

All right. The first one is judge denied pretrial detention. Why is that important to you?

TACOPINA: Well, it's important because it's a window into the value of this evidence, Greta. I mean, in Aruba, in this case, Joran has been arrested and detained twice on little or no evidence that would hold up in a court of law, yet he's been detained. In this instance, the judge looked at that transcript, that tape, and looked at the evidence presented by the prosecutor, Hans Mos, that really does refute, refute the validity of that statement. This Daury individual -- they know who the Daury is because there's phone records, recent phone records between Joran and this individual. The Daury that Joran's talking about, the one he mentions by first and last name, by the way, on the tape, who he knows, is not on the island in 2005.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Is that the one that was just -- that Jossy just spoke about? Is that...


TACOPINA: ... lawyer's office.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, another thing you got on the graphic, that Joran does not confess or admit guilt. Let me -- and let me just say one thing, that he says that he's with her and he asked someone to dispose of her body and he doesn't know if she's dead or alive. That's...

TACOPINA: I heard these tapes. And again, I think there's been some -- some things lost in translation. He doesn't ask (INAUDIBLE) disposal of the body. What he said was that he went to a phone when he thought she died, called this individual from this pay phone. And I'll get to that in a second, the pay phone, another important piece of evidence, and called this person, Daury. And Daury said, Don't worry, leave her there, I'll take care of things. Just go home." And he went home. And supposedly, this Daury came and took (INAUDIBLE) on this nonexistent boat, you know, in 2005 and dumped her. Aside from the fact that there's no Daury in 2005 in Aruba and Joran didn't know him...

VAN SUSTEREN: Unless it's the other Daury.

TACOPINA: Well, it's not the other Daury because there's no relationship between Joran and the other Daury, and Joran identified this guy by first and last name. They went to the right Daury.

And moreover, the pay phone that's outside the Marriott that De Vries, this journalist, says he authenticated and went and checked out -- there's no a pay phone that you can make local calls on. We've spoken to the Aruban coast guard as recently as yesterday. It's been part of the initial investigation. It was submitted to this judge in determining the validity of this tape. This pay phone is an international call pay phone where you can only make outgoing calls. They have call logs of it, and the call logs do not support any calls made that night.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why would Joran make these statements in this car? I mean, any...

TACOPINA: You know...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, these are just horrible statements and -- I mean (INAUDIBLE) in terms of other (ph) incriminating or not, but you and I could argue about that. But what does he say? Why did he do this?

TACOPINA: You know, he's -- and it's really -- there's no good answer. No one with common sense is going to want to accept this, and we understand that. But what he says is that this individual, you know, was telling Joran all these things about himself and he was giving Joran this marijuana. And you know, he succumbed to all of these temptations, took money from him, too marijuana from him. This guy took him in his Range Rover to fancy places that Joran had never been to, and was peppering him constantly with questions.

You know, if you listen to this tape, the first time this is brought up, this conversation is brought up, the whole thing about Natalee, Joran talks about how, you know, she dies and she must have overdosed on the beach and she died. He says nothing about a boat. What this individual does to Joran as he's taking a puff of this marijuana cigarette, says, And there was a boat, right? And you see Joran. He ponders for almost five seconds before (INAUDIBLE) and goes, Yes. Who's the guy with the boat? He says, I won't tell you that name. Then he presses him and he gives up this name, Daury, who's someone he just met three months ago.

The story is disprovable by the evidence, not by because Joran's saying it now and he said something different then, or you should believe him. It's disprovable by the evidence. I think that's what the people who are rightfully outraged should really stick to, and why this judge did not detain Joran.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, and I -- I actually -- I mean, I think that's sort of -- I mean, I think it's significant they didn't detain him. But you know, when I met Joran, he seemed like -- you know, he seemed like a young kid and he was very earnest. And against his parents' advice, he -- you know, he sat down and talked to us against his lawyer's advice.

And you listen to him in this tape, he's just a cocky, nasty kid. And it's that same sort of description that Beth Holloway gave to me on that first night when they first met him, when they rushed to that island to try and find out what happened to her daughter, is that he's a nasty, cocky kid. And it's almost like, OK, when the cameras turn on and he knows about it, he's this, you know, good student, loves his parents. I mean, and I know that from talking to his mother and father, they love him, but I know that he had some, like -- there were some issues about whether he was an angry kid and (INAUDIBLE) school. You know, like, it's almost like there are two very different people.

TACOPINA: You know, I obviously knew him when the cameras were off and spoke to him, although in the setting of this case.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know if you did know him when he's off. Why would he not be nice to you?

TACOPINA: I said when the cameras are off. I mean...

VAN SUSTEREN: No, no, no. But I mean, he had every -- he had every motive to impress you, too, as he did us.

TACOPINA: Fair enough. Fair enough. But I think -- look, for a living, I sort of make an evaluation of people and...

VAN SUSTEREN: So do I, and I made a poor one. I made a poor one.

TACOPINA: Well, Greta, let's -- look, he may -- his character is certainly something that I think we could all say is in question. His morality, without doubt. I mean, you can't talk the way he did, despite the fact that he was under the influence of marijuana, and say, Oh, this is a kid who's had a rough go. He has had a rough go. He's changed. The people who know him best, his parents, who are two sweet people...

VAN SUSTEREN: He hasn't had a rough go.

TACOPINA: No, no. No, Greta -- Greta, if -- listen. Assuming for a second, as the evidence still points, he is innocent, he has a rough go these last few years. He gets a death threat every day. Some of them may be real and some of them may not be. So he's had a rough go. It doesn't excuse what he did. I'm not here to make an excuse for that conduct. I'm here just to say, Keep your eye on the ball, focus on the evidence, and I think if you do that -- look, even the prosecutor said -- the prosecutor, you know, in one of your screens I think has a statement out there that is really telling. And what he says is, you know, It's easy to get up in the hype of a TV production. This prosecutor, Hans Mos, said this. And he said, But whether this sort of evidence would ever hold up in a court of law -- it's right there on your screen right now. You know, while the videotape may present a strong case on a TV news show, it may be insufficient for a finding of guilt by a judge. And he keeps going back to say...


TACOPINA: You know, again, there's a big difference from the reality of a courtroom and the reality of a TV screen.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I agree. And I agree. And the prosecutor has a job to independently corroborate it and not be driven by sort of the tone of it. But we got to go. Joe, thank you.

TACOPINA: OK. Thanks, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I'm sure there'll be a lot more to talk about.

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