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LIMA, Peru – U.S. prosecutors who want to try Joran van der Sloot for extortion related to the 2005 disappearance of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway will have to wait until he finishes serving a murder sentence in Peru, this nation's Supreme Court has ruled.
Van der Sloot's lawyer, who was notified of the decision Friday, said Monday that he expects his client will be made to serve at least two-thirds of the 28-year sentence.
The court's May 23 decision on extradition is not final, however. Peru's justice minister and Cabinet must endorse it, said the lawyer, Maximo Altez.
Van der Sloot, 24, faces extortion and wire fraud charges in Alabama in connection with Holloway's unsolved disappearance in Aruba exactly five years before he killed Peruvian college student Stephany Flores after meeting her in a Lima casino.
He confessed to killing Flores and was sentenced in January, just as Holloway's parents had their daughter declared legally dead.
The Dutchman, who was raised in Aruba, remains the prime suspect in the Holloway disappearance on the Caribbean island, and the U.S. charges stem from his alleged acceptance of $25,000 in early 2010 in exchange for an unfulfilled promise to lead her mother's lawyer, John Q. Kelly, to the body.
Federal prosecutors in Birmingham, Alabama, where Van der Sloot is charged, declined to comment on the court's decision. Kelly said he had no immediate comment.
Altez told The Associated Press that the Supreme Court's decision follows a pattern in Peru. "There are various people in the same situation and they will all be extradited when they finish their sentences. There's no reason Joran van der Sloot should be different," he said.
A copy of the decision obtained by the AP cites the U.S.-Peru extradition treaty, first signed in 1899 and an additional 1990 agreement, as specifying that both parties may postpone extradition until after a condemned criminal has finished serving his or her sentence.
The decision cites three recent cases involving convicted criminals wanted by Spain, Argentina and the United States as precedents.
Van der Sloot is appealing his sentence, and the Supreme Court said that if the appeal is successful he could be extradited immediately thereafter. Altez said his client would resist that.
"At the end of the day, the decision on whether to extradite Joran is political," he said.
He contends Van der Sloot could not receive a fair trial in the United States "because he's been satanized by the press. He is seen as a demon in the United States and would be judged by a jury made up of common people who are influenced by the press and would surely give him the maximum sentence."
Van der Sloot is imprisoned in the Piedras Gordas prison just north of Lima.
Associated Press writers Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, and Frank Bajak in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.