Aruba Murder Charges Pending

An undated image shows Joran Van Der Sloot, center, with Satish Kalpoe and Deepak Kalpoe.
CBS/EARLY SHOW
Aruba's chief government spokesman said Friday that three young men detained in the disappearance of an Alabama teenager have not been formally charged but could be as soon as Monday.

Earlier, Aruba's attorney general, Karin Janssen, told The Associated Press that the young men had been charged with murder since their arrest three weeks ago.

"The three have been charged with the murder of Natalee Holloway from the beginning" of their arrest 10 days after the young woman went missing May 30, she said in a recorded interview. "At the time, we didn't want to upset the family talking about murder while they searched."

However, Janssen said, the charges were not announced at the time to protect the feelings of the family of the missing 18-year-old. The attorney general and other Aruban officials have said for weeks that no one has been charged in the case.

The government spokesman, Ruben Trapenberg, contacted the AP following the English-language interview with Janssen.

"This a question of semantics. It's been a problem since Day One," Trapenberg said. "The charging is a formal process that happens later on. It could happen as soon as Monday."

The three who have been detained are Dutch honors student Joran van der Sloot, 17, and two Surinamese friends of his, brothers Deepak Kalpoe, 21, and Satish Kalpoe, 18.

There are no still definitive answers about what happened to Holloway, reports CBS News Correspondent Steve Futterman. Few believe there is any chance that she is still alive; search crews are essentially trying to find her body.

Also Friday, Aruba's government on Friday defended its handling of the investigation, saying many of the criticisms arose from misunderstandings of the Dutch legal system used on the Caribbean island.

Police have been criticized for letting more than a week go by without detaining the three young men last seen with Holloway and for waiting 16 days after she went missing before searching the home of one of them, a 17-year-old Dutch youth.

Ruben Trapenberg, spokesman for Prime Minister Nelson Oduber, defended the police work, saying the government has put 21 detectives on the case and exceeded the budget with overtime the past month.