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THE AMERICAS

Joran van der Sloot sentenced to 28 years for murder of Peruvian woman

Joran van der Sloot has been sentenced to 28 years in prison after pleading guilty to the 2010 murder of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman he had met at a casino in Lima.

Van der Sloot was also ordered to pay $75,000 in reparations by a three-judge panel in Lima for the "cruel" and "ferocious" murder that took place exactly five years to the day after the disappearance of American teen Natalee Holloway in Aruba. He showed no emotion as the court clerk read the sentence, describing how he elbowed Flores in the face then beat and strangled her with his bloodied shirt. 

Van der Sloot told the court he reserves the right to appeal the conviction and sentence.

Due to time already served, the judges said van der Sloot's sentence would end in June 2038. But under Peru's penal system, Van der Sloot could become eligible for parole after serving half of the sentence with good behavior, including work and study. Van der Sloot could be freed sometime in his late 30s if paroled after serving half of his 28-year sentence.

Van der sloot -- who appeared in court wearing a green T-shirt while sweating profusely as he appeared to frequently wipe tears from his eyes -- said he was "truly sorry" for the killing of Stephany Flores. He said he had "wanted from the first moment to confess sincerely" to the killing. His lawyer told the court that van der Sloot killed Flores as a result of "extreme psychological trauma" he had suffered from the fallout over the Holloway case.

Prosecutors said van der Sloot killed Flores with "ferocity" and "cruelty," concealing the crime before fleeing to Chile, where he was caught two days after Flores' decaying body was found.

He took more than $200 in cash plus credit cards from the victim and made his initial getaway in her car, leaving it in another part of Lima, prosecutors say.

The 24-year-old Dutchman frequently hung his head as the lengthy charges were read in court. He drank several glasses of water prior to sentencing and appeared to be listening intently to the charges being read by a judge.

Van der Sloot remains the main suspect in that case and Holloway's parents want him extradited to the United States to be tried on related charges. He has been indicted in extortion charges there for allegedly offering to lead a lawyer for Holloway's mother to her daughter's remains.

Natalee Holloway disappeared on May 30, 2005, during a high school graduation trip to the Dutch Caribbean island where van der Sloot grew up. Her body was never found and repeated searches turned up nothing as intense media coverage brought the case worldwide attention.

Van der Sloot had faced up to 30 years in prison in the killing, though the guilty plea was aimed at winning a lighter sentence. The defense had claimed the killing was manslaughter, which carries a minimum sentence of five years.

In a confession, he had said he killed her in a fit of rage after she discovered on his laptop that he'd been linked to the Holloway disappearance.

The victim's father, Ricardo Flores, complained after the verdict that Van der Sloot was enjoying favorable conditions in a Lima prison, where he has been living apart from the general population and foreigners with money can buy superior treatment.

"A jail isn't a 5-star hotel," Ricardo Flores told reporters. "Let's hope the authorities take that into account and not just in our case."

"Since the first day we've been complaining about the excessive privileges" that Van der Sloot allegedly enjoyed in jail, he said.

Flores said he would present evidence of this at a news conference on Monday. Unconfirmed news reports denied by penal authorities say Van der Sloot has also had a television and video gaming console.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.