Aruban police on Wednesday searched the home of a high-ranking Dutch official and the arrested teenage son who witnesses say was with an Alabama high school graduate shortly before she disappeared last month.
Authorities also towed two vehicles during the afternoon search, which came shortly after Paul van der Sloot filed suit in court to be allowed to see his jailed son, Joran, who also appeared in court with two detained Surinamese friends.
On Tuesday, FBI agents and officers from the Miami-Dade police department searched unsuccessfully with bloodhounds in a beachside mangrove swamp next to the Marriott Hotel, apparently acting on information from a former detainee in the case who said the three young men may have lied to police about where they took 18-year-old Natalee Holloway.
Holloway, on a trip with 124 other students to celebrate the graduation from Mountain Brook High School, near Birmingham, disappeared in the early hours of May 30. Her U.S. passport and packed bags were found in her room. Countless searches of the island by authorities and hundreds of volunteer islanders and tourists have led nowhere.
Holloway's mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, has said that if she doesn't see progress in the case soon, she may start to think that authorities are protecting the youth because his father is a justice official in Aruba. Authorities have said they are pursuing all leads, while Prime Minister Nelson Oduber has said "nobody stands above the law" on the Dutch Caribbean island.
During Wednesday's search, two police officers walked went inside the one-story, yellow-beige home, which includes an attached apartment where the young man lives. Other officers guarded the entranceway to the house in the town of Noord, outside the capital, Oranjestad.
Authorities towed a blue sport utility vehicle and a red Jeep away from the house, which is surrounded by a low stone wall and fronted by about 1,600 square meters (1,915.88 square yards) of trees and cacti.
"The search is part of the investigation," said Attorney General spokeswoman Mariaine Croes. She said both cars belonged to the family, but did not say why they were taken away.
Officers on the scene would not comment. Police spokesman Edwin Comemencia said he had no information.
Earlier Wednesday, van der Sloot filed a motion for permission to see his son, Comemencia said, while Ruud Oomen, the lawyer representing Surinamese detainee 21-year-old Deepak Kalpoe, said he was filing a motion to force the prosecution to hand over "all the evidence against my client."
The Dutch youth's lawyer, Antonio Carlo, refused to comment as he left the court. Attorney General Caren Janssen also left without comment. Neither the Dutch youth, his father, nor the Surinamese brothers were seen leaving the courthouse.
It was not clear immediately why Kalpoe's younger brother, 18-year-old Satish Kalpoe, was in court as well.
Croes would only say that four court proceedings had taken place in connection with the case Wednesday. She said the judge would rule in a couple of days.
The law says that authorities can hold detainees for up to 116 days without filing formal charges. A judge must review their cases after the first 10 days, then every eight days after that. The three young men have been in custody since last Thursday.
Croes also noted that Dutch law allows 17-year-olds to be tried as adults, at a judge's discretion. No one has been charged in the case, however.
It also was not immediately clear Wednesday why van der Sloot had not been allowed to see his son, and whether his mother had been allowed to.
Shortly after the three young men's detention, then attorney general's office said Dutch law permits parents to see minors in jail. Aruba follows Dutch law as a former colony in the Netherlands Antilles, from which it seceded in 1986 to become an independent member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
In their initial police testimony, the Kalpoe brothers told police they and Joran van der Sloot had gone to a beach with Holloway, and that the Dutch youth and the young woman were kissing and petting in the back of their car. The brothers said in testimony that they then dropped Holloway at her Holiday Inn hotel shortly before 2 a.m. the day she disappeared.
But Antonius "Mickey" John, a former hotel security guard released from custody earlier this week, told reporters on Tuesday that while being held in an adjacent jail cell, Deepak Kalpoe told him the story the young men gave to police was false.
Kalpoe told John that he and his brother dropped the young van der Sloot and Holloway off together near the Marriott, about 10 blocks north of the Holiday Inn, John said. John said he passed the information on to police.
Asked about the alleged conversation between Kalpoe and John, Oomen replied Wednesday, "All I'll say is, my client maintains his innocence."
PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press Writer