Judge Releases Three Men Held in Natalee Holloway Case

The missing teen's family believes the charges will be dropped for lack of evidence

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Photo: Courtesy of Beth Twitty/AP

Joran van der Sloot, one of three young men last seen with Natalee Holloway in Aruba, was set free Friday by an Aruban judge who ruled there was not enough evidence to hold him for an additional 60 days of pretrial detention.

A week ago, Aruban Court of Instruction Judge Rick Smid also ruled there was not enough evidence to hold co-defendants Deepak Kalpoe, 24, and his brother Satish, 21.

The release of van der Sloot, 20, comes as no surprise to the family of Holloway, the Alabama teen who disappeared in 2005. The attorney for Beth Holloway, Natalee’s mother, told PEOPLE earlier the case would be dropped soon.

“If they don’t have enough to hold them to simply interrogate them, they don’t have enough to hold them to face charges,” New York lawyer John Q. Kelly said. “They certainly don’t have enough to convict them of the charges. It’s pretty simple stuff.”

Aruba’s chief prosecutor, Hans Mos, says he will announce later this month whether he will proceed to trial against the three young men. They were last seen driving Holloway, 18 at the time, from a popular nightclub May 30, 2005, several hours before she was to fly home with members from her graduating class.

If new evidence arises, Mos says he has plenty of time to bring the case to trial because the statute of limitations is 18 years from the time of Holloway’s disappearance.

“We still have another 15 years to wait for new evidence,” he says.

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