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Three Arubans to remain in custody

Conflicting reports over confession in teen's disappearance


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ORANJESTAD, Aruba (CNN) -- A judge ruled Saturday to keep in custody three youths arrested earlier this week in connection with the disappearance of an Alabama teenager, a government official said.

The decision allows police and prosecutors eight days to continue their investigation into 18-year-old Natalee Holloway's disappearance, the official said.

The judge was flown in from the neighboring island of Curacao, a step not considered unusual in high-profile cases, said Aruba government spokesman Rueben Trappenberg. He explained that government officials want to ensure everything is done properly.

Defense attorneys have come to the defense of the young men, saying they have maintained their innocence.

"My client keeps on saying he is not guilty," said attorney David Kock, who represents 18-year-old Satish Kalpoe. He added that as far as he knew, none of the three have admitted guilt.

Kock said, "There's a girl missing, so everybody assumes that a crime has been committed."

Antonio Carlo represents Joran Van Der Sloot, the son of an Aruban judge. Carlo said the teen "has admitted to no crime whatsoever. My client has maintained that he is innocent."

Asked how Van Der Sloot was faring, Carlo said, "He is a 17-year-old boy. His detention is, of course, having an effect on him emotionally, but he is holding strong."

He said Van Der Sloot had been in contact with his mother and was assisting in the investigation. Both attorneys refused to comment on details of the investigation.

Van der Sloot, Kalpoe and Kalpoe's 21-year-old brother Depak were the last to be seen with Holloway. They were spotted leaving the popular Carlos'N Charlie's nightclub in the early hours of May 30.

A senior police official told CNN there had been "a breakthrough amounting to a confession, or some sort of confession" in relation to the case, but did not say who made it.

Prosecutors refused to confirm or deny reports of a confession.

Law enforcement sources close to the investigation said there has not been a confession, but that cracks are appearing in the three suspects' stories.

Spokeswoman Vivian Van Der Biezen said only that the investigation was at a "very crucial" point.

Aruba Prime Minister Nelson Oduber said no one had informed him of a confession, but noted that type of information is not something he would learn of during this stage of investigation.

He said early Saturday that there was no search for a body or remains.

"Investigators will continue early in the morning doing their job," Oduber said.

Late Friday, a senior police official told CNN that one of the three youths police took into custody Thursday had confessed to killing Holloway.

The Mountain Brook, Alabama, resident was in Aruba with more than 100 classmates and seven chaperones celebrating high school graduation.

Casino meeting

Police said Van Der Sloot met Holloway May 29 at the casino in the Holiday Inn where she was staying.

Later that night, Holloway went to Carlos'N Charlie's with about 40 of her classmates. She left around 1:30 a.m. on May 30 with the Kalpoes and Van Der Sloot, authorities said.

Police said the Kalpoes and Van Der Sloot told authorities they then went with Holloway to a beach before taking her back to her hotel at about 2 a.m.

The men claimed they visited a lighthouse on the northwestern tip of the island, which is about 19 miles long and 6 miles wide.

According to police statements, the Kalpoe brothers described her as stumbling on the way into the hotel, possibly as a result of alcohol, and that a "dark-colored" man in a black T-shirt with a radio helped her.

Two arrests

That testimony led to Sunday's arrest of Abraham Jones, 28, and Mickey John, 30, two security guards at a hotel near where Holloway was staying.

But a Holiday Inn employee who has reviewed surveillance tapes from that morning said the tapes do not show any sign of Holloway. Authorities had no explanation and were looking at whether the five men have any connections to each other.

The guards' attorneys maintain the two are innocent.

None of the five men has been formally charged.

As part of the Netherlands Kingdom, Aruba follows the Dutch judicial system, under which suspects are arrested on suspicion of a crime and not charged until later.

Van Der Sloot's mother said she was confident her son had told authorities everything and that he was innocent.

"He was willing to help with anything, and he had a kind of quiet resolve -- I mean he said, 'Mom, don't be upset because everything will be fine. I know I am innocent, I didn't do anything,'" Anita Van Der Sloot told CNN.

"And in a very almost naive way he was very open with us, told us everything what happened," she said, adding that he has offered to speak with the Holloway family.

Government officials have said solving Holloway's disappearance is a national priority on the small Caribbean island where tourism is a top industry.

A massive search operation has involved authorities, family, friends and volunteers.

CNN's Karl Penhaul and Rick Sanchez contributed to this report.

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