Aruba: Departure of man held in woman's disappearance won't derail probe

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

Story highlights

  • Gary Giordano has been held in connection with the disappearance of a U.S. woman
  • He is to be set to be freed Tuesday
  • Aruba's solicitor general says Giordano has refused to answer questions in recent weeks
  • Giordano has said the woman didn't return to the beach while they were snorkeling
Aruba's general prosecutor vowed Monday that investigators will keep working "to get to the bottom" of what happened to a Maryland woman last seen in early August, even after the only person held in connection with the disappearance likely leaves the Caribbean island.
Prosecutor Taco Stein said U.S. citizen Gary Giordano has refused to "answer our questions" in recent weeks. Still, Stein vowed that such a lack of cooperation -- and the real possibility that Giordano won't be in Aruba for much longer -- won't stop the investigation into Robyn Gardner's disappearance.
"We take this in stride," Stein said of a judge's decision to rule against the prosecution and allow for Giordano's release. "We would have liked it to be different... Of course, the investigation will continue."
Giordano's U.S.-based attorney, Jose Baez, had said in a statement last week that his client would be released at 8 p.m. Tuesday after weeks in Aruban custody and "return home to his family in the United States."
A three-judge panel will hold a hearing starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday to assess the decision to release Giordano. Yet Stein has acknowledged Giordano likely will not be in the country by then -- while insisting that, "if we need him again, we will seek extradition with the United States."
Giordano, 50, has yet to be formally charged in the case. The body of Gardner, who was last seen on August 2, has not been found.
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According to statements from the prosecutor's office., Giordano said he'd been snorkeling with the woman when he signaled her to swim back. When he reached the Aruban beach, Gardner was nowhere to be found, he reportedly said.
"I only looked back when I hit a rock," Giordano told investigators, according to a transcript of a police interview obtained by CNN. "Before that, I did not look back. I was only busy saving my life."
He was later arrested, with Aruban judges repeatedly granting requests to extend his detention while the investigation continued -- until last Friday, when a judge rejected a prosecution bid to hold Giordano for 30 additional days.
The solicitor general stressed Monday that Giordano's likely departure won't alter Aruban authorities' commitment.
"We are determined to get to the bottom of this, not just for the reason of justice but (because) the family of Robyn ... deserves answers -- to get clarity and the possibility of closure," Stein said. "Especially at this time of year, it must be very hard not to know what happened."
On Monday, shortly before his likely return home, Giordano won one victory in court -- this time, in his home state of Maryland.
Montgomery County Judge Stephen Johnson ruled against a mother and daughter in Gaithersburg who had sought a "peace order" against their neighbor. According to Maryland law, judges can issue such civil orders to "order one person to refrain from committing certain acts against others."
The neighbors claimed in a petition that Giordano left dead and live animals, furniture and trash on their lawn over a period of three years. In one instance, for example, they alleged that he left a dead squirrel under the windshield wiper blade of their car.
Court documents show the order was denied, because there was "no statutory basis for relief." The neighbors claim in the petition that they did not know that a peace order must be filed within 30 days of an alleged incident.