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Joran van der Sloot

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Joran van der Sloot
Aruba Police Department photograph of van der Sloot, 2005
Born Joran Andreas Petrus van der Sloot
(1987-08-06) 6 August 1987 (age 31)
Arnhem, Netherlands[1]
Nationality Dutch
Other names Murphy Jenkins[2]
Occupation Student,[3] restaurateur, gambler[4]
Criminal charge Extortion, wire fraud (USA)[5]
Criminal status Sentenced to 28 years imprisonment at Challapalca prison (Peru)[6]
Spouse(s) Leidy Figueroa (m. 2014)[7]
Children Dushy van der Sloot
Parent(s) Paul van der Sloot[8]
Anita van der Sloot-Hugen[9]
Conviction(s) Qualified murder, simple robbery (Peru)[10]

Joran Andreas Petrus van der Sloot (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈjoːrɑn vɑn dεr ˈsloːt]; born 6 August 1987) is a Dutch citizen, the murderer of Stephany Flores Ramírez, in Lima in 2010, and the primary suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway, in Aruba.[1][10][11]

After Flores Ramírez's murder on 30 May 2010 van der Sloot fled to Chile, where he was arrested and extradited back to Peru for questioning regarding the murder.[12] On 7 June 2010, he confessed to bludgeoning Flores.[10][11][13][14] He later tried to formally retract his confession, claiming that he had been intimidated by the National Police of Peru and framed by the FBI.[15][16] A Peruvian judge ruled on 25 June 2010 that the confession was valid[17] and on 13 January 2012, Van der Sloot was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment for Flores' murder.[6]

Five years earlier, while living in Aruba, van der Sloot had been the primary suspect in the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway, who disappeared in Aruba on 30 May 2005, exactly five years before Flores' murder. Van der Sloot was indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States for wire fraud and extortion related to Holloway's whereabouts.[18] Holloway's disappearance remains unsolved.

The Holloway and Flores cases both attracted widespread media attention;[4] Time magazine declared Van der Sloot's arrest the top crime story of 2010.[19][20] Van der Sloot was the subject of international news coverage from prison,[21] leading to controversies that resulted in the investigation and suspension of several Peruvian officials.[22]


Van der Sloot attended the HAN University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.[1]

Joran van der Sloot was born in Arnhem, Netherlands. He is one of three sons born to Paul van der Sloot (1952–2010), a lawyer, and Anita van der Sloot-Hugen, an art teacher.[8] In 1990, his family moved from Arnhem to Aruba,[9] where he was an honor student at the International School of Aruba.[9][8] He was considered a star soccer and tennis athlete at the school.[4] Van der Sloot competed in doubles tennis with his father at the Moët et Chandon Anniversary Cup in 2005.[8] He hoped to play for Saint Leo University near Tampa, Florida.[23] Van der Sloot's mother said he had a problem with lying and had a tendency to sneak out of the house at night to go to casinos.[24]

Natalee Holloway disappearance

Carlos'n Charlie's, where Natalee Holloway was last seen with van der Sloot, in Oranjestad, Aruba

Van der Sloot (then age 17), along with the Kalpoe brothers, Deepak (then age 21) and Satish (then age 18), was arrested on 9 June 2005, as a suspect in the 30 May 2005 disappearance of an 18-year-old American woman, Natalee Holloway, who was declared legally dead six years after she disappeared.[25] The Kalpoes were released from custody on 4 July,[26] but were re-arrested on 26 August on suspicion of rape and murder, while van der Sloot remained in custody. Van der Sloot and the Kalpoes were released on 3 September because of a lack of evidence.[27] After his release, Van Der Sloot was required to stay within Dutch territory pending the results of the investigation. On 5 September 2005, van der Sloot returned to the Netherlands to study international business management at the HAN University of Applied Sciences.[28] On 14 September, a higher court removed the travel restrictions.[3][29][30] Gerold G. Dompig, former deputy commissioner of the Aruba Police Force,[31] stated that the initial arrests were made prematurely under pressure from Holloway's family. Dompig charged that the family sidetracked the investigation by making it difficult for the police to collect evidence to solve the case.[23]

Media coverage

On 26 September 2005, van der Sloot told the American television show A Current Affair that neither he nor the Kalpoe brothers had sex with Natalee, but he admitted that they initially agreed to lie to the authorities. He said that they first told police that Holloway was dropped off alone at her hotel, while he later said that he was dropped off with her at the beach. He stated that he left Holloway alone at the beach at her request and that he regretted it.[32]

On 6 February 2006, on Good Morning America, van der Sloot's parents stated that their son was unfairly singled out and that the investigation left them devastated.[33]

On 16 February 2006, while van der Sloot and his father were in New York City for an interview with ABC Primetime, they were served with a lawsuit filed by Natalee's parents, Beth and Dave Holloway, alleging personal injury;[34] the case was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds that August.[35]

In April 2007, De zaak Natalee Holloway (The Case of Natalee Holloway), a Dutch language book by van der Sloot and reporter Zvezdana Vukojevic, was published by Sijthoff in the Netherlands. Van der Sloot started writing the book while attending business classes in Arnhem. He stated in the introduction, "I see this book as my opportunity to be open and honest about everything that happened, for anyone who wants to read it."[36]

2007 search and arrest

On 27 April 2007, a new search involving some twenty investigators was launched at van der Sloot's parents' home on Aruba.[37] Dutch authorities searched the yard and surrounding area, using shovels and thin metal rods to penetrate the dirt. A spokesman for the prosecutor's office, Vivian van der Biezen, stated "The investigation has never stopped and the Dutch authorities are completely reviewing the case for new indications". A statement released directly from the prosecutor's office stated: "The team has indications that justify a more thorough search."[38] Investigators did not comment on what prompted the new search, except that it was not related to van der Sloot's book.[39]

On 21 November 2007, van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers were re-arrested in Arnhem, Netherlands and Aruba for "suspicion of involvement in voluntary manslaughter and causing serious bodily harm that resulted in the death of Natalee Holloway" because of what the Aruba prosecutor's office stated was "new incriminating evidence" related to the disappearance of Holloway. Van der Sloot was returned to Aruba on 23 November, and a court hearing on 26 November ruled to continue his detention for eight days.[40] The Kalpoe brothers were released on 1 December. Van der Sloot was ordered released on 7 December, and he was released without charge the same day.[41]

2008 Dutch television sting operations

File:Peter R. de Vries.jpg
Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries has pursued Van der Sloot in undercover reports.

On 11 January 2008, after being challenged on the Dutch late-night talk show Pauw & Witteman by crime reporter Peter R. de Vries, Van der Sloot threw a glass of red wine into De Vries' face.[42]

On 3 February 2008, an undercover video made by De Vries aired on Dutch television, purporting to show van der Sloot smoking marijuana and admitting to being present during Holloway's death. The show was watched by 7 million viewers in the Netherlands and was the most popular non-sports program in Dutch television history.[43] Patrick van der Eem, working undercover for De Vries, had befriended van der Sloot, who was unaware that he was being taped when he said that Holloway had suffered some kind of seizure while having sex on the beach. After failing to revive her, van der Sloot said that he summoned a friend named Daury. The two men never phoned for medical help nor did they check Natalee to determine if she might still be alive. Then, according to van der Sloot, Daury volunteered to load her on a boat and he dumped Natalee's body into the sea.[44] The prosecutor in Aruba determined the video was admissible,[45] but the evidence was deemed "insufficient" to warrant van der Sloot's, or anyone's, arrest. Although the taped confession appeared damning, van der Sloot argued that he was lying to impress van der Eem, whom he believed to be a drug dealer.[46] On 22 September 2008, in New York City, De Vries accepted an International Emmy Award in Current Affairs for his coverage while accompanied by Beth Holloway.[47] Under pressure of the attention from the program, van der Sloot voluntarily checked into a psychiatric clinic before departing for Thailand.[3] He moved to Muang Ake, a suburb of Bangkok, to study business at Rangsit University, but dropped out and bought Sawadee Cup, a restaurant next to the campus that served sandwiches and pizza.[48]

In November 2008, De Vries aired undercover footage of van der Sloot making preparations for the apparent sex trafficking of Thai women in Bangkok. De Vries claimed that van der Sloot was making $13,000 for every woman sold into prostitution in the Netherlands.[49] van der Sloot used the alias of "Murphy Jenkins" to avoid Thai authorities.[2] Peruvian Minister of Justice Aurelio Pastor said that Thailand is pursuing criminal charges against van der Sloot. According to The National Enquirer, he is being investigated for his involvement in the disappearance of young women he may have recruited for a Thai sex slave gang while posing as a production consultant for a modeling agency that would send them to Europe.[50]

On 19 April 2009, van der Sloot was portrayed by actor Jacques Strydom in the Lifetime television film Natalee Holloway,[51] which was based on the bestselling book Loving Natalee: A Mother's Testament of Hope and Faith by Natalee's mother Beth Holloway. The movie brought in the highest television ratings in Lifetime's 11-year history at the time.[52] Van der Sloot himself watched the film one evening in 2010, according to his friend John Ludwick, and said that some parts were true while others were not.[53]

In August 2009, van der Sloot was spotted in Macau at the Asia Pacific Poker Tour.[8] He won over $12,000 that year in an online poker tournament.[54] He described himself on his YouTube page as "a professional poker player" and cited the poker strategy guide Ace on the River as his favorite book. In early 2010, van der Sloot sold his restaurant business and returned to Aruba after the death of his father.[4]

Father's involvement in the case

Joran's father, Paulus Antonius Petrus Johanna "Paul" van der Sloot (15 February 1952 – 10 February 2010),[55] was arrested on 22 June 2005, for questioning in Holloway's disappearance. Paul was ordered released on 26 June after three days of questioning.[56] According to Aruba's chief prosecutor, one of the Kalpoe brothers told investigators that Paul, who at the time was training to be a judge,[23] advised that without a body, the police would have no case.[57] Beth Twitty (Holloway's married name at the time) pursued van der Sloot's parents in the ensuing media circus on Aruba. She said that Paul acknowledged that they could not control their son and had sent him to a psychiatrist.[23]

On 10 November 2005, Paul van der Sloot won an unjust detention action against the Aruban government, clearing him as a suspect and allowing him to retain his government contract.[29] The elder van der Sloot then brought a second action, seeking monetary damages for himself and his family because of his false arrest.[58][59] The action was initially successful, but the award of 40,000 Aruban florins (US$22,300) was reversed on appeal.[60] The family's finances were depleted by the legal expenses.[4] In January 2007, Paul found work as a managing partner at the law firm that represented him.[55][59]

On 24 November 2008, On the Record aired an interview with Joran van der Sloot in which he said that he sold Holloway into sexual slavery, receiving money both when Holloway was taken, and later on to keep quiet. He also alleged that he paid the Kalpoe brothers for their assistance, and that his father paid off two police officers who had learned that Holloway was taken to Venezuela. Joran van der Sloot later retracted the statements made in the interview.[61] The show also aired part of an audio recording provided by van der Sloot, which he alleged is a phone conversation between him and his father, in which the father displays knowledge of his son's purported involvement in human trafficking. According to Mos, the voice heard on the recording is not that of Paul van der Sloot. The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that the "father's" voice is almost certainly that of Joran himself, trying to speak in a lower tone.[62]

On 8 January 2010, Paul cancelled his partnership at the law firm where he had been working.[55] On 10 February 2010, he died of a heart attack at the age of 57 while playing tennis in Aruba.[63] Joran returned to Aruba soon afterward and turned to gambling.[4] His mother Anita said that Joran had severe mental problems and blamed himself for his father's death. He left before she could have him psychiatrically committed, leaving a note: "I'm gone, do not worry."[64]

2010 charges in the United States

Around 29 March 2010, van der Sloot allegedly contacted John Q. Kelly, legal representative of Natalee's mother Beth Holloway, with an offer to reveal the location of her daughter's body and the circumstances surrounding her death for an advance of $25,000 against a total of $250,000.[65] Kelly said that he secretly went to Aruba in April to meet with van der Sloot, who was desperate for money, and gave him $100. Kelly notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation to set up a sting operation with the Aruban authorities.[66][67] On 10 May, van der Sloot allegedly accepted the amount of $15,000 by wire transfer to his account in the Netherlands, following a cash payment of $10,000 that was videotaped by undercover investigators in Aruba.[68][69] In exchange, van der Sloot told Kelly that his father buried Holloway's remains in the foundation of a house. Authorities determined that the information that he in return provided was false, because the house had not yet been built at the time of Holloway's disappearance.[70] Van der Sloot later e-mailed Kelly that he lied about the house.[66] Holloway was shocked that the FBI did not promptly file extortion charges against van der Sloot, allowing him to leave freely with the money to Bogotá, Colombia, on his way to Lima, Peru.[70][71] The FBI and the office of the U.S. Attorney contended that the case had not yet been sufficiently developed.[67]

On 3 June 2010, the U.S. District Court of Northern Alabama charged van der Sloot with extortion and wire fraud. U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance issued an arrest warrant through Interpol to have van der Sloot prosecuted in the United States.[5] On 4 June, at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, Dutch authorities raided and confiscated items from two homes in the Netherlands, one of them belonging to reporter Jaap Amesz who had previously interviewed van der Sloot and claimed knowledge of his criminal activities.[72] Aruban investigators used information gathered from the extortion case to launch a new search at a beach, but no new evidence was found.[73] The Solicitor General said they would not seek van der Sloot's extradition to Aruba. On 30 June, a federal grand jury formally indicted van der Sloot of the two charges. The indictment filed with the U.S. District Court seeks the forfeiture of the $25,100 that had been paid to van der Sloot.[18]

In an interview published by De Telegraaf on 6 September 2010, van der Sloot admitted to the extortion plot, stating: "I wanted to get back at Natalee's family. Her parents have been making my life tough for five years." Van der Sloot's attorney said that his client was not paid for the interview and suggested that "maybe there were some mistakes in the translation."[74]

On 9 March 2014, the Peruvian government announced that van der Sloot would face extradition to the United States in the year 2038 to face charges of extortion and wire fraud, after completion of his 28-year sentence in Peru for the murder of Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramírez (see below).[75] In February 2016, an undercover reporter filmed Joran confessing to the murder of Natalee Holloway. The film shows Joran, in Dutch, laughing over how he never told the truth about the whole event and that he did in fact kill Natalee. His Peruvian wife is also present during this conversation.[76]

Death of Stephany Flores

File:Hotel TAC Lima, Peru cropped.jpg
Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramírez was found dead in van der Sloot's room at Hotel TAC, S.A.C. in Lima, Peru.

On 30 May 2010, the fifth anniversary of Holloway's disappearance, Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramírez, 21, died at the Hotel TAC, in the Miraflores District of Lima, Peru.[77] On 2 June, a hotel employee found her beaten body in room 309,[12][78] which had been registered in van der Sloot's name.[79] He had departed from the hotel without returning the room key and left the television running.[80] A tennis racquet, identified by the coroner as a possible homicide weapon, was recovered from the room.[71] A hotel guest and an employee came forward to say they saw van der Sloot and the victim entering the hotel room together, and the police obtained video of the two playing cards at the same table the night before at the Atlantic City Casino in Lima.[79][81] Van der Sloot had entered Peru via Colombia on 14 May 2010 to attend the Latin American Poker Tour.[82][83]

File:Stephany Flores.jpg
Stephany Flores

Flores Ramírez was a business student less than a year from graduation at the University of Lima.[84] She was the daughter of Ricardo Flores, a former president of the Peruvian Automobile Club and winner of the "Caminos del Inca" rally in 1991. A prominent businessman and entertainment organizer, he ran for vice president in 2001 and for president five years later on fringe tickets.[85] Flores said that police found date rape drugs in his daughter's car, parked about 50 blocks from the hotel where she died.[86] Her jewelry, money, ID and credit cards were missing, including about $1,000 her father had given her to purchase a laptop, and over $10,000 she had won earlier at the casino.[73][87][88] Stephany reportedly kept this money in her car, but a police search found no money in it.[89]

After Flores Ramírez's family reported her missing, police retrieved the hotel surveillance tape and obtained van der Sloot's name and national identification number. Her brother's wife discovered van der Sloot's background in a Google search about an hour before her body was found.[90]


Joran van der Sloot is located in South America
Map of Van der Sloot's travel sites in South America.

Peruvian officials named van der Sloot as the lone suspect in the homicide investigation.[79] Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for van der Sloot, believing that he had fled the country to Chile and may have been traveling to Argentina to return to Aruba.[91] Van der Sloot was sighted entering Chile via the Chacalluta border crossing, north of Arica, on 31 May 2010.[92][93] His ex-girlfriend, Melody Granadillo, said that van der Sloot sent her a text message asking for money to buy a ticket back to Aruba.[94]

On 3 June, van der Sloot was arrested near Curacaví by the Investigations Police of Chile while traveling in a rented taxi on Highway 68 between the coastal city of Viña del Mar and the capital Santiago.[95][96] He was found with a laptop, foreign currency, a business card case, detailed charts of ocean currents around Lima, and bloody clothes.[79][97] His phone's SIM card was missing, which made mobile phone tracking of his location impossible.[98] He told Chilean police that unidentified armed robbers hid in the hotel room and killed Flores Ramírez when she disobeyed their order to be quiet.[99] Van der Sloot's Dutch attorney claimed that his client was on his way to Santiago to turn himself in.[100] He was subsequently expelled and transported by Chilean police in a Cessna 310 back to Arica to be handed over to Peruvian authorities at the Chacalluta border crossing on 4 June.[12][101] Van der Sloot arrived at Lima police headquarters on 5 June, where he was interrogated about the death while represented by attorney Luz Maria Romero Chinchay.[102] The Dutch embassy provided a translator for his defense.[103] He was held in a seventh floor cell and permitted to contact his mother.[104] Van der Sloot was placed on suicide watch by guards after it was reported that he deliberately hit his head against a wall.[105][106] On 10 June, he was moved to a cell at the prosecutor's office in central Lima.[107]

Forensic investigation

File:Atlantic City casino Peru exterior.jpg
The Atlantic City casino in Lima, where van der Sloot and Flores Ramírez were recorded on surveillance video

Surveillance video from the Atlantic City Casino recorded Flores Ramírez winning $10,000 at a baccarat table area on 25 May 2010, while accompanied by a male friend who was not van der Sloot. According to casino spokesperson Luis Laos, she also won $237 playing poker on 29 May and it was common for people to know the identities of big winners. Laos stated that van der Sloot did not win any money that night. At 3:00 a.m. on 30 May, Flores Ramírez was recorded entering the casino alone and walking to a poker table where van der Sloot was sitting. van der Sloot had not registered for the Latin American Poker Tour. The deadline to pay the $2,700 entry fee for the 2 June event at the casino was 30 May.[108]

Police released hotel security video showing van der Sloot and Flores Ramírez entering the Hotel TAC together at about 5:00 a.m. on 30 May.[109] At about 8:10 a.m., he is shown walking across the street to a supermarket and returning with bread and two cups of coffee.[110] Around 8:45 a.m., he is seen leaving the hotel alone with his bags.[79]

An autopsy ruled that Flores Ramírez did not have sexual intercourse before her death and that she was not under the influence of enough alcohol to prevent her from resisting an attack.[105] She suffered blunt force trauma to her head, causing a brain hemorrhage, cranial fracture, and breaking her neck.[12][69] She also suffered significant injuries to her face and showed signs of asphyxiation, according to court documents.[111] Flores Ramírez tested positive for the presence of amphetamines.[112][113] The lab report does not indicate whether the victim took the drugs willingly or unknowingly.[114] The stains on van der Sloot's clothes matched the blood type of Flores Ramírez.[115] Blood was also found on the floor, hallway, and mattress in the hotel room. Police stated that DNA tests would be conducted on the clothes, skin found under the victim's fingernails,[116][117] and the previously recovered tennis racquet.[79] Ricardo Flores stated in interviews that his daughter's body needed to be exhumed to gather the fingernail DNA evidence, and that her body had not been cremated for this reason.[118]

On 14 March 2011, the National Police of Peru provided a copy of the hard disk drive from van der Sloot's laptop computer to the FBI. Colonel Oscar González of the high tech division of the Peruvian police stated that the U.S. federal investigation was interested in information related to Holloway's disappearance and the alleged extortion of her family.[119][120] Peruvian detectives determined that the laptop accessed information about the Holloway case before Flores Ramírez arrived in Van der Sloot's hotel room; it was then used to visit two poker websites at around the time Flores Ramírez was present in the room.[121] According to a police dossier,[122] the laptop was later used to search Google for the subjects: "relationship between the Peruvian and Chilean police", "Chilean border pass", " buses in Chile", and "countries that do not extradite in Latin America."[123]

Confession and retraction

On 7 June 2010, van der Sloot reportedly confessed to killing Flores Ramírez, after hours of interrogation. He initially proclaimed his innocence.[124] According to an expert in Peruvian law, the confession fit a defense strategy of trying to get the charge reduced to manslaughter, which is punishable by 6 to 20 years in prison, while a conviction for murder could result in up to 35 years imprisonment.[125] The prosecution was seeking a sentence of 30 years.[14] Peru does not issue life sentences in standard cases of murder and has abolished capital punishment in all but exceptional circumstances, such as crimes committed under military law.[126][127] A life sentence can be issued for a murder committed during the commission of a robbery.[128] Peruvian president Alan García Pérez used the case to seek the reinstatement of the death penalty for murder.[129]

On 8 June, Peruvian investigators reportedly planned to take van der Sloot back to the hotel room for a re-enactment of the crime scene as part of standard procedure,[130] but waived it on the basis that his alleged confession was remarkably complete and corroborated by evidence.[107][131] In the written confession released by Peruvian police, van der Sloot recounted that he briefly left the hotel to get some coffee and bread, and returned to find Flores Ramírez using his laptop computer without his permission. A police source stated that she may have found information linking him to the disappearance of Holloway. An altercation allegedly began and she attempted to escape.[126] According to the written confession that has been released by Peruvian authorities, van der Sloot stated, "I did not want to do it. The girl intruded into my private life . . . she didn't have any right. I went to her and I hit her. She was scared, we argued and she tried to escape. I grabbed her by the neck and hit her."[124] Van der Sloot reportedly stated that he was stoned on marijuana at the time.[126] A detective linked to the case said that van der Sloot considered getting rid of the body in a suitcase,[132] but decided against it because he would have been stopped at the front desk.[97] He then reportedly drank espresso and took amphetamines to counter fatigue before fleeing.[133]

Criminal police chief Cesar Guardia said van der Sloot "let slip that he knew the place" where Holloway's body is buried.[132] Guardia stated that the interrogation was limited to their case in Peru, which he considered "practically closed," and that questions about Holloway's disappearance were avoided.[107] Guardia said that the confession contains lies because van der Sloot's "toxicological report shows no signs that he had ingested any kind of drug." Felonies committed under the influence of drugs can gain leniency in Peruvian courts.[112] Guardia said that the motive for the crime was robbery.[73] Van der Sloot reportedly offered a different motive for killing Flores Ramírez, stating that he "feared that she would go to the police." On 14 June, Peruvian authorities released written transcripts of van der Sloot's alleged confession.[134] His mother Anita expressed concern that her son's confession may have been coerced.[130] According to van der Sloot's former attorney Luz Maria Romero Chinchay, his mother advised him not to make any statements nor sign anything, but it was too late.[102]

Van der Sloot later retracted this confession in a prison cell interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, claiming that he had been intimidated and "tricked" by police with a promise to be transferred to the Netherlands. He stated that at the time he signed the confession documents, he did not understand the content as it was in Spanish. He was quoted: "In my blind panic, I signed everything, but didn't even know what it said."[15] Van der Sloot said that he was lured to Peru and framed by another gambler named Elton Garcia, who he claimed was working undercover for the FBI.[16] Van der Sloot's attorney Maximo Alonso Altez Navarro stated his intention to resign because the case "created many problems" for him.[134] He had been threatened and harassed for taking the case, and van der Sloot's family was unable to afford his legal expenses.[135] However, Altez Navarro stayed on to file a motion to void the confession on the grounds that his client was not properly represented during his interrogation. On 25 June, Superior Court Judge Wilder Casique Alvizuri rejected the motion, noting that van der Sloot was represented by a state-appointed lawyer and provided a translator by the Dutch embassy.[17] Altez Navarro said that van der Sloot was as "depressed" as anyone in prison would be.[136]

Criminal proceedings

The Palace of Justice in Lima, where van der Sloot was charged with murder

On 11 June 2010, Lima Superior Court Judge Juan Buendia ordered van der Sloot held on charges of first-degree murder and robbery, determining that he acted with "ferocity and great cruelty". Under Peruvian law, Van der Sloot was not eligible to be released on bail,[13] and would be tried by a panel of three judges rather than a jury. A simple majority of the three was required for conviction.[137] Police transported van der Sloot on the same day from Lima's Palace of Justice in an armored truck while angry onlookers yelled and threw rotten lettuce. He was taken to Miguel Castro Castro maximum security prison and placed in a cell near the prison director's office for his own safety.[11] He is registered as inmate #326390 and separated from the general prison population under 24-hour guard in a high-security cell block where the only other inmate is alleged Colombian hitman Hugo Trujillo Ospina.[134] Van der Sloot reportedly offered to disclose the location of Holloway's body in exchange for transfer to an Aruban prison because of fear for his life in Miguel Castro Castro prison.[132] President Alan García Pérez said that van der Sloot would have to stand trial for the homicide before any extradition request would be considered.[104] He also stated that van der Sloot will serve his prison sentence in Peru. There is no treaty for the transfer of prisoners between Peru and the Netherlands.[132]

On 15 June, Aruban and Peruvian authorities announced that they would cooperate in their respective cases involving van der Sloot. Aruban investigators expected to be able to interview van der Sloot in Peru in August, after Peruvian authorities had completed their investigation.[138] At his first formal hearing within the on-site courtroom of Miguel Castro Castro prison on 21 June,[137] Van der Sloot refused to discuss the case with Judge Carlos Morales Cordova,[139] claiming that his rights and due process were violated. Van der Sloot filed a complaint with the National Police of Peru,[111] accusing chief detective Miguel Angel Canlla Ore of misconduct.[140] He also claimed that his laptop had been improperly searched.[141] Van der Sloot's defense counsel filed a motion of habeas corpus disputing the legality of his detention and to nullify statements he gave to police,[142] but the motion was declared "unfounded" by Superior Court Judge Wilder Casique Alvizuri on 25 June. The judge upheld all three depositions given by van der Sloot to police and stated that the defendant's laptop was sealed by the court.[141] Defense attorney Altez Navarro vowed to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court of Peru and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights with a legal strategy to "paralyze the process".[136] The Peruvian court said that this would not hold up the case against van der Sloot.[142]

Altez Navarro stated that he filed suit against attorney Luz Maria Romero Chinchay, who first represented van der Sloot during his interrogation, charging her with abuse of authority, conspiracy to commit a crime, and misrepresentation because he did not find her name on the list of public defenders from the Ministry of Justice.[143] Altez Navarro also filed a complaint against van der Sloot's translator, insisting that he misrepresented himself as an official translator of the Dutch embassy.[144] Romero Chinchay rejected the claims against her, stating that van der Sloot had selected her as a private attorney after declining another defense attorney appointed by the state. She contradicted his claims that he did not understand what he was signing by stating that she was able to speak with him in perfect Spanish. She said that van der Sloot was interested in talking about the Holloway case, thinking that it might get him extradited to Aruba. Romero Chinchay also said that when she told van der Sloot that she noticed he was signing various documents with very different signatures, he signaled for her to be quiet.[102]

Altez Navarro stated on 21 August 2010 that the case was stagnating because an official interpreter was unable to be found for the case in Peru. The Peruvian association of translators and interpreters and the Dutch embassy both separately stated at the time that they have been unable to locate one to officially translate Spanish into Dutch.[145] Unlike Aruba and the United States, Peru does not guarantee the right to a speedy trial.[146] On 6 September, a Peruvian appeals court voted 2 to 1 to reject van der Sloot's motion that he is being unlawfully held. Because 3 votes are required for a decision, if a fourth judge votes in van der Sloot's favor, a fifth judge will be required to break the tie.[74] Peruvian statutes permit a suspect to be detained for up to 18 months for interrogation, though Altez Navarro expressed skepticism that law enforcement officers will do so with his client.[147]

In February 2011, Altez Navarro filed a "violent emotion" defense with the court, arguing that van der Sloot had entered into a state of temporary insanity because Flores Ramírez found out about his connection to Holloway from his laptop computer. Under Peruvian law, if the judge accepts this crime of passion argument, the sentence for such a plea could be reduced to only 3 to 5 years; Altez Navarro noted that this could allow van der Sloot to be eligible for parole in as soon as 20 months.[148] Oscar González of the Peruvian police stated that an examination of van der Sloot's laptop determined that Flores Ramírez did not access such information while she was in the hotel room with him.[149]

Guilty plea and conviction

On 11 January 2012, van der Sloot pleaded guilty to the "qualified murder" and simple robbery of Flores.[10] He was convicted and sentenced to 28 years imprisonment for the murder on 13 January, and, he must pay $75,000 to the Flores family. Hours after learning of the sentence, van der Sloot was transferred to a maximum security prison, Piedras Gordas, located north of Lima. He is currently expected to be released on 10 June 2038.[6]

In August 2014, van der Sloot was transferred to Challapalca prison in the mountainous South of Peru, where circumstances are harsh due to the location's altitude. Two months later, a Dutch online news service claimed that van der Sloot was stabbed and critically injured by fellow prisoners in Peru.[150] Although van der Sloot's wife's claim of a stabbing is contested by Peruvian authorities,[151] photos have been published showing van der Sloot as suffering from multiple stab wounds from two separate attacks.[152]

Public reaction

Public outcry in Peru has been fueled by local media, which labeled van der Sloot a "monster," "serial killer," and "psychopath." The coverage of this controversy highlighted cases of other women dying at the hands of foreigners.[128] Peruvian and Colombian newspapers published articles about the investigation of the disappearance of two young women who frequented casinos during van der Sloot's stay in at least two Bogotá hotels from 6 to 14 May 2010, prior to entering Peru.[153][154] However, the Administrative Department of Security of Colombia do not consider van der Sloot a suspect as they believe his presence in Bogotá was merely in transit to Peru.[155]

Dutch daily newspaper Trouw warned that the overwhelming pressure on authorities of van der Sloot's presumed guilt risked turning the case into a show trial.[156] The Dutch consulate told Peruvian authorities that it was concerned how van der Sloot was being treated and presented to the media.[87]

In December 2010, Time magazine named van der Sloot's arrest the most important criminal event of the year,[19] ahead of the Belgian love triangle skydiving murder case, the Chinese school attacks and the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping trial.[20] ABC News listed the coverage of van der Sloot's murder confession by Good Morning America among the most read stories from its website in 2010.[157] CBS 42, the news affiliate in Birmingham near Holloway's hometown, named the criminal charges filed against van der Sloot in 2010 among the top ten stories of the year in Alabama.[158] Radio Netherlands Worldwide identified him as one of the most talked about Dutch people of the year.[159]

He generates a lot of media attention, which costs us time and it is not good for the relationship between the Netherlands and Peru.

— Arjan Hamburger, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Peru[160]

Media coverage at Miguel Castro prison

Van der Sloot's cell became the target of a media circus, with reporters vying to gain exclusive access and report about his prison surroundings.[161][162] Since his incarceration, he has only consented to interviews to De Telegraaf, in which he admitted to extorting the Holloway family and said that he received a number of marriage proposals in his cell, including one from a woman who wanted to have his child.[74][163] Van der Sloot reportedly receives fan mail from around the world, though mostly from women residing in the United States and the Netherlands.[160] According to sources within the prison, Van der Sloot sought $1 million in exchange for an on-camera interview.[164]

The Office of Internal Affairs of the National Penitentiary Institute of Peru began administrative and disciplinary action on 23 August 2010, when Peruvian network América Televisión aired a picture of van der Sloot with three other inmates that had been taken with official photographic equipment at Miguel Castro Castro prison. The photo included van der Sloot casually posing with Colombian hitman Hugo Trujillo Ospina, accused of the contract killing of Peruvian entrepreneur Myriam Fefer, and American William Trickett Smith II, accused of killing and dismembering his Peruvian wife.[21] Van der Sloot and Smith have been referred to by local media as "the foreigners accused of the most talked-about assassinations in our country."[165]

On 11 September 2010, Beth Holloway and Peter R. De Vries traveled to Peru with a Dutch television crew to visit the prison.[166] According to van der Sloot's attorney Maximo Alonso Altez Navarro, his client was taken to meet them "practically by force."[167] Altez Navarro stated that the meeting with Holloway took "less than one minute." Holloway said that she told van der Sloot that she had "no hate in her soul" for him and asked about her daughter's disappearance, to which van der Sloot responded by saying that he could not speak to her without his lawyer present and handing her his business card. According to Altez Navarro, Holloway was "snuck" into the prison without being identified by the Dutch media crew who she was with.[168] A prison spokesperson stated that Holloway's name was not found in the visitor registry.[166] Holloway and the crew were removed from the prison, reportedly after a hidden camera was discovered by the guards.[169] Representatives for Holloway and De Vries denied that a hidden camera was involved or that anything was seized.[170] Miguel Castro Castro prison warden Alex Samamé Peña was suspended after video segments of the confrontation between Holloway's mother and van der Sloot later began airing on Dutch network SBS6.[22]

In October 2010, América Televisión broadcast video of a transaction for marijuana within the prison that was conducted by a shirtless man who was addressed as "gringo Van der Sloot." Defense attorney Altez Navarro said that the situation was "staged" and asked the National Penitentiary Institute to investigate how it was leaked. Prison spokesperson Bruno Guzman said that van der Sloot had been painting his cell "to improve his conditions" and that the incident was being investigated.[171]

In November 2010, a forensic expert determined that a jawbone found on an Aruban beach was from a young woman.[172] A part of the bone was sent to The Hague for testing by the Netherlands Forensic Institute against Natalee Holloway's dental records.[172][173] According to Altez Navarro, Van der Sloot began laughing when notified of the developments.[174] Aruba Solicitor-General Taco Stein later announced that the bone was confirmed to be not from Holloway.[175]

Van der Sloot's mother Anita stated in a Dutch interview that her son could have killed Flores Ramírez and that she will not visit him at the prison.[16] She said in another interview that she hopes to talk to the family of the victim and apologize to them.[164]

"I believe in karma, I believe that very strongly. I believe that if you do things that you shouldn't do, that a lot of shit happens to you," she said. "He didn't want to listen to his parents. He didn't listen to me, this last time. I tried to do my best. I don't think I could have done more. He's considered an adult right now. He has to do whatever he needs to do, and that is tell the truth (about) what happened."

— Anita van der Sloot-Hugen, Dutch television interview[164]

In February 2011, Altez Navarro protested a decision by prison officials to deny Radio Netherlands Worldwide permission for a subsequent interview with van der Sloot. Altez Navarro claimed that the ruling was influenced by upcoming general elections.[176]

On 5 July 2011, St. Martin's Press published Portrait of a Monster: Joran van der Sloot, a Murder in Peru, and the Natalee Holloway Mystery by Lisa Pulitzer and Cole Thompson.[177]

Personal life

In a prison ceremony on 4 July 2014, van der Sloot was married to Leidy (alt. Leydi) Figueroa, a Peruvian woman whom he met while she was selling goods inside the prison. She was 7 months pregnant with his child at the time.[178] On 28 September 2014 L. Figueroa gave birth to an 8 lb baby girl in Peru [179]


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