The prime suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba will be extradited to the US
The prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of the late American teen Natalee Holloway will be extradited to the US to face extortion and fraud charges, said officials in Peru, where Joran van der Sloot has been serving time for the murder of a Peruvian woman.
Peru “decided to agree to the request for temporary surrender … (of van der Sloot) … for his prosecution in the United States for the alleged commission of the crimes of extortion and fraud” against Holloway’s mother, Justice and Human Rights Minister Daniel Maurate Romero said in a statement Wednesday.
Van der Sloot was among the last to see Holloway alive 13 years ago in Aruba. Separately, he was convicted in 2012 of murdering Stephany Flores, 21, in his Lima hotel room and sentenced to 28 years in prison.
A Dutch national, van der Sloot has been indicted in the US on federal charges of extortion and wire fraud in connection with a plot to sell information about the whereabouts of Holloway’s remains in exchange for $250,000, officials said.
The missing 18-year-old’s mother, Beth Holloway, wired $15,000 to a bank account van der Sloot held in the Netherlands and through an attorney gave him another $10,000 in person, the indictment states. Once he had the initial $25,000, van der Sloot showed the attorney, John Kelly, where Natalee Holloway’s remains allegedly were hidden, but the information turned out to be false, the indictment states.
The indictment seeks for van der Sloot to forfeit $25,100, including $100 Beth Holloway initially transferred to van der Sloot to confirm his account.
Holloway was last seen in the early hours of May 30, 2005, leaving a nightclub in Aruba with van der Sloot and two other men.
The three men – van der Sloot and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe – were arrested in 2005 and released due to insufficient evidence. They were rearrested and charged in 2007 for “involvement in the voluntary manslaughter of Natalee Holloway or causing serious bodily harm to Natalee Holloway, resulting in her death,” Aruban prosecutors said at the time.
But a few weeks later, an Aruban judge ordered van der Sloot’s release, citing a lack of direct evidence that Holloway died from a violent crime or that van der Sloot was involved in such a crime. The Kalpoe brothers were also released.
Holloway’s body has not been found. An Alabama judge signed an order in 2012 declaring her legally dead.
‘We are finally getting justice,’ mother says
Van der Sloot’s extradition from Peru to the US was expected to begin Thursday, said George Seymore, CEO of Patriot Strategies, which represents the Holloway family. But Maximo Altez, Joran van der Sloot’s lawyer in Peru, told CNN en Español he will appeal Peru’s extradition decision to face charges in the United States.
Van der Sloot would be returned to Peru after legal proceedings against him conclude in the United States, Peru’s judiciary said.
“The requesting country must keep the defendant in custody during the entire (duration of) proceedings in its territory,” the Peruvian judiciary announced on social media. “Once the criminal proceedings against (van der Sloot) conclude, he will immediately be returned to the Peruvian authorities.”
The US State Department would not confirm details of van der Sloot’s extradition “as a matter of long-standing practice” in such cases, an agency spokesperson said.
News of van der Sloot’s impending arrival in the US brought long-awaited relief to Holloway’s family.
“In May 2005 my 18-year-old daughter Natalee Holloway left Birmingham for Aruba to attend her high school graduation trip and was never seen again,” mother Beth Holloway said in a family statement released Wednesday.
“I was blessed to have had Natalee in my life for 18 years, and as of this month, I have been without her for exactly 18 years,” the statement said. “She would be 36 years old now. It has been a very long and painful journey, but the persistence of many is going to pay off. Together, we are finally getting justice for Natalee.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey called the suspect’s imminent extradition to Holloway’s hometown of Birmingham “significant.”
“Criminals like him are deceptive & vicious. Alabama moms like Beth Holloway are stronger,” Ivey tweeted Thursday. “Her commendable persistence to obtain justice for Natalee is FINALLY paying off.”
Peru has an extradition treaty with the US and previously had agreed to extradite van der Sloot only after he finished serving the murder sentence, the Peruvian news agency Andina reported, meaning US officials may have had to wait until 2038.
Beth Holloway thanked Peru’s new president and supporters near and far.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to President Dina Boluarte, the President of Peru, the warm people of Peru, the family of Stephany Flores, the FBI in Miami, Florida and in Birmingham, Alabama, the US Attorney’s office in Birmingham, the US Embassy in Peru and the Peruvian Embassy in the US, my longtime attorney John Q. Kelly who has worked tirelessly on this case, and George Seymore and Marc Wachtenheim of Patriot Strategies,” the mother said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported no one was ever charged in Holloway’s death.
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