Van der Sloot charged with first-degree murder

Van der Sloot charged with first-degree murder

Credit: AP

Dutch citizen Joran van der Sloot, left, sits between officers while being transported in a police car in Lima, Thursday, June 10, 2010.

Print
Email
|

by Associated Press

KING5.com

Posted on June 11, 2010 at 1:02 PM

LIMA, Peru -  A Peruvian judge on Friday ordered Joran van der Sloot jailed on charges of first-degree murder and robbery in the killing of a 21-year-old Lima woman, determining he acted with "ferocity and great cruelty."

Lima Superior Court Judge Juan Buendia issued the order before dawn and the 22-year-old suspect was first taken with other prisoners in an armored truck to Lima's judicial palace, then alone to an eastern Lima prison where he will have his own cell in a segregated block.

Police manhandled Van der Sloot as they ushered him quickly out of the truck at into the judicial palace, a scarf around his neck and his hands cuffed behind him. Two officers pushed his head down.

"Disgrace!" and "Murderer!" angry onlookers yelled as Van der Sloot was taken from the prosecutor's office where he had been held since Thursday. One person threw rotten lettuce.

Van der Sloot remains the lone suspect in the 2005 disappearance in Aruba of Natalee Holloway, and the chief of Peru's criminal police said he told investigators that he knows the location of the U.S. teen's body.

Police say Van der Sloot smashed in the face of Lima business student Stephany Flores, whom he met playing poker at a casino, after taking her to his hotel room on May 30. They say he then strangled her, threw her to the floor, emptied her wallet.

If convicted on the murder and robbery charges, Van der Sloot would be sentenced to between 15 and 35 years in prison, court spokesman Luis Gallardo told The Associated Press.

"The aggravating factors are having acted with ferocity and great cruelty," he said. The announcement of the charges and judge's order came in a news release issued by the court.

Van der Sloot was taken to the maximum-security Castro Castro prison where, for his own protection, he will have his own cell in a small block near the prison director's office, said prisons spokesman Bruno Guzman.

The only other two prisoners on the block are a reputed Colombian hit man charged with murdering a Peruvian businesswoman and a provincial mayor charged with laundering drug money

It was not yet known when the trial might begin. A judge must first be assigned to hear the case.

Flores was killed three days after meeting Van der Sloot, police say, and five years to the day after Holloway disappeared.

Lima criminal police chief Gen. Cesar Guardia told the AP on Thursday night that when Van der Sloot confessed to killing the Lima business student, investigators asked him about the Holloway case and "he let slip that he knew the place where this person was buried."

Guardia said, however, that the Dutchman told investigators "he would only testify (on the matter) before Aruba authorities."

He said he didn't know how seriously to take Van der Sloot's comment given his history of dubious statements the Alabama teen's disappearance.

Van der Sloot's newly hired attorney, Maximo Altez, has asked Judge Buendia to declare his client's Monday confession void on the grounds he made it in the presence of a defense lawyer appointed by police.

Reached by the AP, Altez refused to discuss the case. He said Van der Sloot's schoolteacher mother, Anita, would be arriving early next week with the family's own "media adviser." His father died in February.

Guardia said Van der Sloot's confession was legal -- that a government-appointed lawyer and an interpreter approved by the Dutch Embassy were present. He also said that Peruvian interrogators had restricted their questioning to the death of Flores, the daughter of a circus promoter and former race car driver.

The 6-foot-3 (190-centimeter-tall) Van der Sloot impressed investigators with both his intelligence and brutality, Guardia told the AP.

The general said Van der Sloot took Flores' cash, about $300 worth of Peruvian currency, two credit cards and her national ID card. Police say he also took her car, abandoning it in a lower-class Lima neighborhood before fleeing south to Chile.

Guardia said Van der Sloot said he killed Flores because she found out about the Aruba case by using his laptop without his permission while he went out for two cups of coffee and rolls.

But he said police do not necessarily believe him and think he may have killed Flores beforehand.

Col. Miguel Canlla, chief of homicide investigations, told the AP that Van der Sloot took off his shirt after strangling Flores and put it on her. He said the Dutchman wanted to put her body into a suitcase but couldn't.

"He is cold, calculating and cynical," Canlla said.

The evidence against the Van der Sloot includes hotel security camera video showing him and Flores entering his hotel room together and the Dutchman leaving alone four hours later.

Security camera video from the Atlantic City casino early on the morning of her death shows Flores arriving at a poker table where Van der Sloot is sitting with other players, shaking his hand as if they met before and then taking the seat next to him. The two later leave together.

Van der Sloot arrived in Peru on May 14, authorities say, four days after receiving $25,000 as part of an FBI sting aimed at resolving the Holloway case.

The day of his arrest in Chile, June 2, U.S. prosecutors charged him with extortion.

The case commenced after Van der Sloot contacted John Kelly, a New York lawyer for Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty, in April, according to an affidavit unsealed Thursday.

The Dutchman allegedly was seeking $250,000 in exchange for the location of the young woman's body, how she died and the identity of those involved.

Van der Sloot "wanted to come clean, but he also wanted money," said Bo Dietl, a private investigator who worked with Kelly on the case.

After consulting with Twitty, Kelly contacted the FBI.

It sent 10 to 12 agents to Aruba for a sting operation, he said, and Kelly gave Van der Sloot $10,000 in cash while another $15,000 was wired to a bank account. The FBI said the funds came from a private individual, without specifying that person's identity.

Van der Sloot was told he would get $225,000 once the body was found, Dietl said. According to the affidavit, Van der Sloot insisted a written contract be signed between him and Twitty.

Van der Sloot was secretly videotaped by the FBI in an Aruba hotel telling Kelly he pushed Holloway down, that she hit her head on a rock and died, the affidavit says. He said he then contacted his father, who helped him bury the body.

Kelly and Van der Sloot went to where the Dutchman said he and his father had put Holloway -- in the foundation of a house.

No body has been found, however.

The affidavit says Van der Sloot admitted in a May 17 e-mail -- he was in Peru by then -- that he had lied about the location of Holloway's remains.

It was not the first time Van der Sloot has admitted to having lied about the case. Several times, he made confessions he later retracted.

Van der Sloot was the last person seen with Holloway before the girl vanished on the last night of a high school graduation trip.

He was arrested twice but released both times for a lack of evidence.
 

Print
Email
|