Natalee Holloway case: Joran van der Sloot’s lawyer fears additional US charges
EXCLUSIVE: Joran van der Sloot, the 36-year-old killer suspected in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway in Aruba, had his U.S. extradition approved this week without a hearing, his lawyer told Fox News Digital, adding that he believes prosecutors are eyeing additional charges.
“I don’t trust the judicial system in the United States at this moment,” Maximo Altez, van der Sloot’s defense attorney in the 2012 murder trial for the death of Stephany Flores, said Friday.
He believes the U.S. will try to tack on homicide charges to his extortion and wire fraud case, he said. And he has not yet been able to speak with his client despite the unexpected news of his expected extradition.
“We are not fighting for Joran’s innocence, we are fighting that his rights are respected,” Altez said. “We are asking for due process.”
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As the last person seen with Holloway, van der Sloot has been the prime suspect in her disappearance and presumed death. Exactly five years after she vanished, van der Sloot beat the second woman, Flores, to death in a hotel room and fled to Chile. He was convicted two years later.
Holloway was visiting Aruba on a trip to celebrate high school graduation with a large group of friends and vanished after she left a night club with van der Sloot and two of his pals, Satish and Deepak Kalpoe, on the last night of the trip.
Van der Sloot is not charged in Holloway’s death, but is accused of trying to extort her mother for $250,000.
“People are not going for justice, they’re going for revenge,” Altez said. “People are confusing the two as if they’re synonyms.”
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However, legal experts say it’s unlikely that the Justice Department would resort to the subterfuge, or be sitting on evidence in Holloway’s case.
“Anything’s possible, but I think that’s unlikely that he wouldn’t have been extradited already,” said Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor now practicing privately in Los Angeles. “It would’ve already happened by now.”
Prosecutors would be hungry to crack a cold case, he said, and they wouldn’t be shy about seeking a grand jury indictment if they had sufficient evidence. Unless, he said, the U.S. plans to seek the death penalty, which would be surprising under the Biden administration.
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The government in Peru approved extradition as early as Tuesday, Altez told Fox News Digital. The arrangement would be temporary. After a trial in the U.S. in connection with his 2010 indictment on extortion and wire fraud charges, van der Sloot would be returned to Peru to finish his sentence for Flores’ murder and a separate charge of trafficking drugs in prison. He is currently slated for release in June 2038.
If convicted in the U.S., he would then be sent to a federal prison.
If van der Sloot plans to fight extradition as expected, Altez would file a habeas corpus petition opposing the move, he told Fox News Digital.
That would temporarily “paralyze” the extradition, he said. He added that the petition is already prepared but likely would face an uphill fight.
“Joran is receiving a media trial,” Altez said, speaking in Spanish from Peru.
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If the bid to fight extradition fails, Altez said timing and transportation still need to be worked out with U.S. Marshals.
If he faces a judge in Alabama, van der Sloot will ask the federal court for a public defender because he lacks the financial means to hire a private attorney, Altez said.
Some of van der Sloot’s supporters, however, believe the extradition may lead to an upgrade in his circumstances.
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“The Challapalca prison is the worst prison in the world”, Altez explained. “Joran is in hell. He would go to a hell that is more comfortable.”