ORANJESTAD, Aruba — A U.S. businessman who has been detained in the presumed death of his travel companion will have to spend at least 60 more days in custody as prosecutors try to build a case against him, an Aruba judge ruled Wednesday.
The examining magistrate agreed to extend the detention of Gary V. Giordano at the request of prosecutors after a hearing inside the prison on the Dutch Caribbean island.
The hearing was closed and the decision was not released. But it was announced by the Aruban prosecutor’s office, which said Giordano is suspected of involvement in the possible drowning of his companion Robyn Gardner.
Giordano has been in custody for nearly a month since he told police that Gardner disappeared while they were snorkeling off the southern tip of the island. Police have repeatedly searched the area where she was supposedly last seen but have found no trace of her.
At the end of the 60 days, prosecutors can ask the judge to extend the detention further or they can bring him to trial. Solicitor General Taco Stein said they are considering a range of possible charges, including murder, manslaughter, accidental death and insurance fraud.
Prosecutors have not disclosed any evidence against Giordano but have said he gave inconsistent accounts about the 35-year-old woman’s disappearance. They also confirmed he was the beneficiary of a $1.5 million accidental death insurance policy he took out on her.
Stein said before the ruling that prosecutors provided the judge with the findings of the investigation so far but did not reveal all the evidence against Giordano.
“There are some things we still need to confront him with,” Stein said.
He also said investigators still need to hear from witnesses who saw Gardner and Giordano on the island. The missing woman’s mother, Andrea Colson, echoed that thought in a statement issued in response to the judge’s ruling.
“We need to find our daughter,” Colson said. “We pray that anyone who knows what happened that day will find the strength to contact authorities immediately.”
The statement was released by the Natalee Holloway Resource Center, a Virginia-based missing persons group named for a young Alabama teen who disappeared on the final night of a high school graduation trip to Aruba in 2005.
Giordano’s lawyer, Michael Lopez, said before the hearing that he believed his client would be released. Otherwise, he said, he would have no immediate comment on the ruling, but he has said previously that there is no evidence of any crime.
Giordano, a 50-year-old from Gaithersburg has been held in his own cell at the island’s jail, but authorities plan to move him to a cell that he would share with two other prisoners, Stein said.
Giordano, who owns a temporary staffing business in the U.S., and Gardner, from Frederick, arrived in Aruba on July 31 for what was supposed to be a five-day vacation. He was arrested three days after he reported her missing as he tried to leave the island. Her body has not been found.