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Peru Judge Rules Van Der Sloot Confession Valid in Murder Case

Van der Sloot Transported to Police Station

Dutch citizen Joran Van der Sloot , center, is carried inside a Peruvian police car to "La Concordia" Peruvian police station, near the border between Peru and Chile in Tacna, Peru, Friday, June 4, 2010. Peruvian police were seeking Van der Sloot in connection with the last May 30 killing of 21-year-old Stephany Flores at a Lima hotel. Van der Sloot was previously arrested in the 2005 disappearance of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway, but later released by Dutch authorities. (AP Photo/Karel Navarro) (AP)

LIMA, Peru — A Peruvian judge on Friday denied a defense motion to void the confession of Joran van der Sloot in the murder of a 21-year-old Lima student because the attorney representing him at the time was state-appointed.

Superior Court Judge Wilder Casique rejected the habeus corpus motion on behalf of Van der Sloot, who is jailed pending trial on charges of first-degree murder and robbery in the May 30 death in his hotel room of Stephany Flores, whom he met playing poker in a casino.

Van der Sloot also remains the sole suspect in the unresolved 2005 disappearance of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway on the Caribbean island of Aruba.

Casique noted in a statement that Van der Sloot had, in addition to the lawyer, been afforded a Dutch-Spanish interpreter vetted by the Dutch Embassy.

Van der Sloot recanted the confession in a jailhouse interview with the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, claiming it was made under duress.

The defendant's lawyer, Maximo Altez, told The Associated Press that he would appeal Casique's decision to a higher court.

A criminal law expert, Jose Balcazar, told the AP that Van der Sloot can continue the appeal but "that will not hold up the case against him."

Earlier Friday, the chief judge of Lima's Superior Court, Cesar Vega, told reporters that Peruvian laws allow up to six months for murder trials.

But legal expert Mario Amoretti said that in practice, cases like Van der Sloot's can last 18 months.

Balcazar said the defense is likely to try to draw the trial out.

If convicted, Van der Sloot faces between 15 and 35 years in prison.