Judge extends detention of Gaithersburg man in Aruba

August 15, 2011

A judge in Aruba on Monday ordered a Gaithersburg man held for an additional 16 days as investigators continued to probe how and why his traveling companion disappeared two weeks ago.

Gary V. Giordano, 50, appeared before an examining magistrate for more than two hours. The proceeding was closed to the media, as is typical at this stage in Aruban investigations. But Aruban Solicitor General Taco Stein said prosecutors argued to the judge that Robyn Gardner, 35, might be the victim of foul play and that Giordano was involved.

This is the second time a judge has ordered Giordano held since his Aug. 5 arrest, which occurred three days after Gardner, of Frederick County, disappeared. The mystery has become international news because of similarities to the case of Natalee Holloway, who disappeared from the island in 2005.

Michael Lopez, Giardano’s attorney in Aruba, was not immediately available for comment. He has indicated that there is no proof Giordano committed a crime, and that he should be released.

Giordano, who owns a personnel staffing company, arrived in Aruba with Gardner on July 31, according to authorities. On the evening of Aug. 2, Giordano told authorities that the two had gone snorkeling, but Gardner didn’t make it back to shore. Three days later, as Giordano was trying to board a flight back to the United States, Aruban police arrested him at the airport.

In Aruba, prosecutors seeking to hold a suspect must appear before a judge at regular intervals, Stein said.

Giordano has been held in a cell at a police facility. With Monday’s ruling, he was expected to be transferred to a prison, Stein said.

Prosecutors will have to present additional evidence to a judge at the conclusion of the 16-day period, Stein said. At that point, he expects prosecutors to ask that Giordano be held for an additional 60 days. At the conclusion of that period, they expect to file formal charges.

“As things stand now, we’ll seek charges for him and criminal prosecution,” Stein said. He did not say what the specific charge would be.

Since Giordano’s arrest, investigators have questioned his account of Gardner’s disappearance. On Sunday, Stein termed Giordano a “suspect in a suspicious death.”

Stein said that if Gardner and Giordano had quarrelled and she left voluntarily, someone would have heard from her by now, particularly given the media attention on the case.

“She would have contacted us, saying, ‘Well, I’m not dead, but I just don’t want to see him anymore,’ and that hasn’t happened,” Stein said. “So that makes us fear the worst.”

Andrea Colson, Gardner’s mother, on Monday issued a statement released by the Natalee Holloway Resource Center.

“We are still hoping to find out what has happened to our daughter, as we have not given up hope that she may still be alive,” Colson said in the statement. “We just want to find our daughter, and we continue to ask the public for any tips they may have in helping our Robyn come home.”

Post staff writer Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County, Md.
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