Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lawyer challenges Aruba officials in tourist case

A U.S. tourist detained in Aruba in the death of his travel companion has cooperated with investigators and should be immediately released because there is no evidence against him, his defense lawyer said Sunday.
Michael Lopez, the Aruban lawyer for Gary Giordano, denied statements by prosecutors that his client is no longer answering questions about what happened to Robyn Gardner, his companion on a short trip to the Dutch Caribbean island.
Giordano, a 50-year-old business owner from Gaithersburg, Maryland, has granted four interviews to investigators and accompanied them twice on visits to the area where he said Gardner disappeared while they went snorkeling, Lopez said in a written statement.
"To date, our client has given all possible cooperation to the investigation," he said. "Where our client has been asked the same question more than once he referred to previous statements."
Giordano is scheduled to appear before a judge Monday for a detention hearing. Prosecutors plan to ask that he be held for at least eight more days while authorities continue to investigate what happened to Gardner. Previously, Aruban Solicitor General Taco Stein said that investigators believe the 35-year-old woman from Frederick, Maryland, is dead.
"We cannot deduce that there is hard proof to sustain a demand by the public prosecutor against our client," Lopez said.
The couple came to Aruba on July 31 and Giordano reported her missing on Aug. 2. Police detained Giordano three days later as he tried to fly back to the United States, saying they had questions about a number of his statements to investigators. A search of the area around where they went snorkeling has yielded no trace of the missing woman.
Lopez says his client did not know anything about Aruba and that Gardner suggested they visit the island in the southern Caribbean.
Lopez criticized the prosecutor's office for releasing a photo of Giordano as they seek witnesses who may have seen the couple together on the island.
"We note that doing this without any kind of proof that the client has committed a crime will damage his good name and jeopardize his company in the States," the lawyer said. "This can lead to substantial damages."
Aruba has asked for help in its investigation from the FBI under a law enforcement cooperation treaty between the U.S. and the island. The FBI searched Giordano's home in Maryland but has declined to discuss the case.More...

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