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U.S. Rep. Discusses Natalee

Rep. Spencer Bachus said he came away from a Friday meeting with Aruban officials with the sense that they plan to vigorously pursue leads in the disappearance of American student Natalee Holloway.

Bachus, R-Ala., whose district includes Mountain Brook, where Holloway is from, divulged little about the substance of the meeting, saying only it was a "frank and open discussion" and that Aruban authorities have devoted "tremendous resources" to the case.

"Their intention going forward ... is not to shut this case down, but to continue to pursue it vigorously," Bachus told reporters. "They do not consider it a closed case nor do they consider that they have a dead end. They continue to develop information and pursue leads."

Holloway, then 18, was last seen on May 30 leaving a bar with a young Dutch national and two Surinamese brothers while on a high school class trip to Aruba. The three were arrested in June but were released after a court ruled there was insufficient evidence to hold them.

Bachus met with three state prosecutors from Alabama and at least three officials from the Dutch Caribbean island, including Aruban Deputy Police Chief Dolf Richardson, for more than two hours. He said the Aruban officials planned meetings with FBI officials while in Washington.

David Barber, district attorney for Jefferson County, Ala., said he offered his assistance to the Arubans but added that in order for them to contact people in Alabama who may have more information about Holloway, they must go through international protocols.

Holloway's family initially praised Aruban authorities for their work on the case, but they recently turned critical, alleging incompetence and conflicts of interest. The governors of Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia have called for a boycott of travel to Aruba to protest the way the case has been handled.

John Quinlan Kelly, a New York-based attorney for the Holloway family, said Natalee Holloway's parents wanted him to attend the meeting, but the lawmaker's office told Holloway's family the Arubans objected to that.

"They've (Aruban authorities) indicated they're still investigating," Kelly said by telephone Friday. "We'll wait to see if there are any answers or prosecution resulting from that investigation."

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