US man gets another 30 days in Aruba tourist case

AP News
Posted: Oct 28, 2011 10:53 PM
US man gets another 30 days in Aruba tourist case

A U.S. businessman who has been jailed in Aruba for nearly three months as a suspect in the death of his traveling companion must remain in custody for at least 30 more days to give investigators more time to gather and evaluate evidence, a judge on the island ruled Friday.

Aruban prosecutors announced the ruling after a closed hearing on the Dutch Caribbean island. Gary Giordano, a 50-year-old employment agency owner from Gaithersburg, Maryland, has been in jail since Aug. 5, three days after he told police companion Robyn Gardner was swept out to sea while snorkeling.

Authorities have said they believe that the 35-year-old woman is dead and that Giordano was involved. Her body has not been found, and any evidence against Giordano has not been disclosed. He has denied any wrongdoing, while his attorneys have appealed for his immediate release.

"Our client is innocent and there has been a lot of investigation already," attorney Chris Lejuez said in an interview outside court. "There is no evidence, and his life is being destroyed."

Lejuez said that during the hearing prosecutors disclosed that a DNA test confirmed that blood found on a towel came from Gardner. But the attorney said that Giordano has maintained that she cut her toe on a rock while they were on a beach and used the towel to stop the bleeding.

The same judge previously issued a 60-day detention order on Aug. 31. The prosecutor's office said in a statement that investigators needed more time to process additional evidence gathered in recent weeks, including the results of a re-enactment of the couple's snorkeling trip off the southeastern tip of the island.

Investigators are still processing some evidence, including DNA analysis and information gathered from Gardner's and Giordano's computers, and are considering a new search for Gardener's remains, said Solicitor General Taco Stein.

At the end of the new 30-day detention period, Stein said prosecutors would be expected to either bring charges against Giordano or release him. Another extension would require a higher threshold of evidence that would be difficult to obtain under Aruban law, Stein said.