A judge in Peru has confirmed that the main suspect in the unsolved disappearance of American student Natalee Holloway in 2005 will be extradited to the United States. Dutchman Joran van der Sloot had attempted to stop his custody transfer in an appeal filed against the move, just 24 hours before the judge delivered his decision. Police authorities had planned to make the extradition on Thursday, but van der Sloot’s lawyer, Máximo Altez, lodged the challenge urging the authorities to inform his client properly about the extradition process. Van der Sloot had previously indicated he would not contest the extradition, but then changed his mind after meeting with Dutch diplomats.
The move comes after the government of Peru announced last month that van der Sloot was to be temporarily transferred into the custody of US authorities to face trial on wire fraud and extortion charges. The indictment stems from an allegation that van der Sloot attempted to extort the Holloway family in 2010, promising to lead them to her body in exchange for several hundred thousand dollars. Grand juries that year indicted him on one count each of extortion and wire fraud.
Van der Sloot had arrived in Lima, the capital city of Peru, on Saturday, under full security measures after being transferred from a prison in the Andes, where he was serving a sentence of 28 years for the murder of a Peruvian woman. Holloway was last seen when she was 18 years old in Aruba, a Caribbean island, while on a trip with classmates. Van der Sloot, who was a student at an international school on the island, was identified as a suspect and detained weeks later, along with two Surinamese brothers. Holloway’s body was never found, and no charges were filed in the case. A judge later declared Holloway dead.
A 2001 treaty between the US and Peru enables temporary extradition of suspects to either face trial in the other country. The resolution published in the South American country’s federal register has confirmed that the time spent by the suspect in the US “will be extended until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings,” inclusive of the appeal process should there be one. US authorities will also return the suspect into the custody of Peru afterward, the resolution states.
Beth Holloway, Natalee’s mother, said in a statement released after Peruvian authorities agreed to the extradition last month that the family was “finally getting justice for Natalee.” “It has been a very long and painful journey, but the persistence of many is going to pay off,” she said.