The prime suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of American Natalee Holloway, Joran Van der Sloot, told a judge on Tuesday that he will fight extradition from Peru to the United States, where he faces extortion and wire fraud charges in connection with Holloway's disappearance.
Van der Sloot faces an indictment in the U.S. for allegedly accepting $25,000 in early 2010 in exchange for an unfulfilled promise to lead Holloway's mother's lawyer to the body after her disappearance in Aruba.
It's not good for us if Van der Sloot goes to the United States because everyone hates him there and the members of the jury will thus be biased.
- Maximo Altez, Joran Van der Sloot's Lawyer
Judge Zenaida Vilca informed Van der Sloot of the U.S. extradition request during a closed door meeting at Piedras Gordas prison just north of Lima. The 24-year-old Dutchman told the judge he would fight extradition, his lawyer, Maximo Altez, said.
If he stays put, Van der Sloot could be released on parole after serving a third of his 28-year sentence for killing a Lima woman he met at a casino in May 2010, said Altez.
But if he were convicted in the U.S. he likely wouldn't qualify for early parole in Peru. Under the U.S.-Peru extradition treaty he would be returned to Peru to finish out his sentence. Then, if he were convicted in the U.S., he would be sent there to serve the second sentence.
"It's not good for us if Van der Sloot goes to the United States because everyone hates him there and the members of the jury will thus be biased," said Altez. "We will defend ourselves with all the legal remedies possible."
In an interview with ABC news, Altez stated his belief that in the end Van der Sloot will lose his fight to stay in Peru.
“The power of the United States will assure that Joran has to face a U.S. judge and I think the extradition will happen probably in two or three months,” he said.
Reporters were able to see Van der Sloot, from about 75 feet (25 meters), enter a room for the hearing, which was also attended by representatives of the U.S. and Dutch embassies.
The Dutchman smiled at the agents who accompanied him but did not respond to calls from the news media.
If Peru's Supreme Court approves the extradition request it will then need to be approved by the country's council of ministers.
Van der Sloot was sentenced in January after confessing to beating and strangling 21-year-old Stephany Flores in his Lima hotel room five years to the day after Holloway disappeared on Aruba, the Dutch dependency where he grew up.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.