Most Americans who are watching the Natalee Holloway disappearance in Aruba are trying to understand the legal process that is happening . We understand the laws of the United States, and are confused by the procedures that are going on in Aruba.
So it was my good fortune to receive an email from a gentleman in the Netherlands who took the time to research and explain the laws of the Netherlands that the Aruban government follows. Here is the email in full,
I am from the The Netherlands, however from a family of expats, so the Antilles are not unfamiliar.
The explanation I gave has to do with regular cases here in The Netherlands. For instance, if you are arrested for shoplifting you can be detained by the police for 24 hours. Within that day the DA has to decide what to do with you, press charges or give you a fine (common).
This is something different. The security guards were arrested on the now well known charges and because this is an serious case (strafzaak) in which foul play is suspected they can be held up to 90 days without trail. This is where the ‘judge’ gets involved. This is common in cases where the DA (officier van justitie) has some doubt about the involvement of those two guys. The DA will then request that an special judge reviews the case and make a decision.
These judges ‘rechter commissaris’ will review the case again and if needed hear the witnesses/accused and the DA. If the judge is conviced that something serious has happend he or she can order your detention for approx. three months.
To make matters a little more compicated is this. As an witness to the event your are not obligated to make a statement. You can refuse this. However, with all this mediapressure, you can make yourself suspicious by doing so. When this case is going to trail, and if you are called by the DA or the defense-attorney to make a statement you cannot refuse. (there are exeptions).
That is why I am litte annoyed by comments that the DA is a slacker. This is not the case. Dutch law states that your are innocent unless proven guilty by the court (and up to two appealcourts in the NL and 1 in the EU). The DA has to work with what he/she gets from the police. If they cannot find anything that links you to the case, that is physical proof or good witnesreports, you are free to go. Furthermore I cannot remember a case in the Netherlands where a judge or a DA is sentenced or investigated for corruption of any kind.
So what to read in this arrest of the witnesses? I really don’t know. It can be ordered by the DA to prevent them leaving the Island, but then the rules of resonable supicion come in to play and a case must be made fast. So we’ll have to wait and see if the rechter commissaris makes an appearance once again.
This gets more complicated because two of the guys (students) are from suriname. This former dutch protectorate is independed since 1975 and therefore a partner in this investigation. The suriname justicesystem in based on the dutch one, but unlike the former colonial motherland severly under stress because of allegations of corruption and lack of real power.
Finally I must say this. I can be wrong because of the distance between The Netherlands and Aruba. I cannot stress this enough. If you like you can post this as extra information, maybe someone with more knowhow about the dutch law (a master in the rights/ lawdegree) can update my information and/or correct this where needed.
Thank you for the information Gerben, I feel that you have helped many people today understand what is going on and cleared up some of the confusion.