American suspected in woman's disappearance in Aruba to go free
A U.S. businessman suspected in the disappearance of his female traveling companion in Aruba in August has been ordered freed from jail next week and will be allowed to leave the island, according to an Associated Press report.
An Aruban judge ruled Friday that Gary V. Giordano, 50, of Gaithersburg, Md., should be freed Tuesday without any conditions, the news agency said.
Giordano, the owner of an employment agency, has spent nearly four months in custody while investigators try to determine whether he is linked to the disappearance of 35-year-old Maryland resident Robyn Gardner, who Aruban prosecutors said was last seen Aug. 2 in an area of the island called Baby Beach.
Gardner's body has not been found, but Aruban authorities have said she is presumed dead.
Local authorities detained Giordano, who had traveled with Gardner to the island, as he tried to leave Aruba.
Giordino notified authorities of her disappearance that evening.
Prosecutor Taco Stein called Giordino’s impending release a setback, according to the AP, and he told the news agency that he had appealed the judge’s decision.
"We feel that he is still a flight risk," the AP quoted Stein as saying. "The investigation is ongoing. We need him."
Stein said prosecutors would request the businessman’s extradition from the United States if they uncovered sufficient evidence to persuade the judge to rearrest him, the AP reported.
Giordano's attorney, Chris Lejuez, told the AP that his client cried when he heard the judge's ruling, which was issued during a private hearing.
"He would not believe that after four months, someone is finally willing to give him the benefit of the doubt," the news agency quoted Lejuez as saying.
The case brings to mind that of missing Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, who disappeared in 2005 during a trip to Aruba. Holloway, 18, was last seen with Dutchman Joran van der Sloot, who is in custody in Peru, accused of killing a 21-year-old woman there.
-- Ann M. Simmons in Los Angeles
Photo: Gary B. Giordano in an Aruba police mugshot released in August. Credit: Aruba Police / Associated Press