Aruba can't keep holding man in missing woman case, judge says

Robyn Gardner has been missing since August 2, when she disappeared during a snorkeling trip.

Story highlights

  • Giordano's U.S. lawyer says he'll be released Tuesday night and return to the U.S.
  • An Aruban judge rejects a request to extend the American's detention for 30 more days
  • Prosecutors have appealed the ruling
  • Giordano says he is innocent in Robyn Gardner's disappearance
A judge in Aruba Friday rejected a prosecution request to hold U.S. citizen Gary Giordano for 30 additional days in connection with the disappearance of his traveling companion, Robyn Gardner, his attorney told CNN Friday.
The decision means Giordano, who has been in Aruban custody since August 5, will be freed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, his U.S.-based attorney Jose Baez, said in a written statement.
"We are grateful the Arubian government has seen that no crime was committed," Baez added. "Gary ... is excited to return home to his family in the United States."
Prosecutors immediately filed an appeal seeking to reverse the ruling and prevent Giordano from leaving jail, said Taco Stein, Aruba's solicitor general. A three-judge appeals panel will consider the matter.
Giordano "couldn't believe" the decision because he had lost faith and confidence in the Aruban criminal justice system, said his Aruban defense lawyer, Chris Lejuez.
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"When I asked him what he really thinks about his release, he started to cry and asked me to excuse him for a few minutes," the attorney said.
The judge's ruling does not require Giordano to remain in Aruba; Lejuez said he believes Giordano will leave as soon as he is freed.
The request to hold him was denied based on what the judge called a lack of progress in the investigation into the August 2 disappearance of Gardner, Stein said.
Giordano made a passionate argument for his release, Lejuez said.
The prosecution's appeal of Friday's order could be heard anytime between Friday and Tuesday, including the possibility of a weekend hearing, Stein said.
Giordano, 50, denies being responsible for the woman's disappearance, insisting that he'd been snorkeling with Gardner when he signaled her to swim back, according to statements from the prosecutor's office. When he reached the Aruban beach, Gardner was nowhere to be found, he reportedly said.
According to a transcript of a police interview, obtained by CNN, Giordano told police he feared for his life when he'd tried to tell Gardner to turn back and didn't look for her as he swam for shore.
"I only looked back when I hit a rock," the document quotes Giordano as telling investigators. "Before that, I did not look back. I was only busy saving my life."
The Gaithersburg, Maryland, resident has acknowledged taking out a $1.5 million life insurance policy on Gardner days before they traveled to Aruba, investigators have said. The woman's body has not been found.
Giordano's detention has been repeatedly extended at the request of authorities, who have said they need additional time to investigate the case.