Joran van der Sloot had a smile on his face when he entered a federal court in Birmingham, Alabama on Friday (June 9). The 35-year-old is currently standing trial for extortion and wire fraud charges related to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in 2005 – which has been a criminal mystery for nearly 20 years.
His appearance in court comes one month after Peru’s Minister of Justice, Daniel Maurate, accepted the United States’ request for the temporary transfer of van der Sloot – who is currently serving 28+ years in a Peruvian prison for an unrelated murder in 2010. He landed in the United States on Thursday (June 8).
On Friday, van der Sloot stood in front of Magistrate Judge Gray Borden, who told him he would only accept a not guilty plea at this time – if he wanted to plead guilty, it would have to happen at a later date. Joran, who hasn’t been charged in the murder of Holloway, pleaded not guilty to extortion and wire fraud.
Joran van der Sloot was initially indicted on the charges in 2010 when a US federal grand jury found that he attempted to extort the Holloway family for $250,000. In return, he promised to disclose the location of Natalee Holloway’s body, which he claimed was buried by his father under the foundation of a house.
Since the family didn’t trust van der Sloot, they contacted the FBI – who initiated a sting operation on van der Sloot. With the FBI involved, the Holloway family sent van der Sloot an up-front cash payment of $10,000 and a wire transfer of $15,000 – the other $225,000 was to be sent when her body was found.
Once they received the location of Natalee’s remains, the FBI quickly called his bluff and claimed that the building he was sending them to hadn’t been built at the time of Natalee’s disappearance. He later admitted to lying about the location and was charged with extortion and wire fraud the following month.
The United States has been unable to send his case to trial for the past 13 years, but is finally getting that opportunity after Peru accepted the United States’ request for the temporary transfer of him to the US. And now that he is pleading guilty, they can move forward with that trial and work towards punishment.
Why is Joran van der Sloot in Peruvian Prison?
Joran van der Sloot will be in the United States until his trial is over, but he’ll eventually return to Peru and continue serving his 28-year prison sentence – which was recently extended after he was caught running a drug-smuggling operation behind bars. With that being said, what was he sentenced for initially?
In May 2010, just a few weeks after he received the two payments from the Holloway family, van der Sloot met a 21-year-old woman named Stephany Flores – they met in a casino owned by Flores’ father. Joran killed Stephany on May 30, which happened to be the fifth anniversary of Holloway’s disappearance.
While he initially fled the country, he was eventually caught by authorities in Chile – where he was hoping to get a plane ticket back to Aruba. He was arrested on June 3, 2010 and confessed to the murder four days later after hours of interrogation. He was sentenced to 28 years and has been in prison ever since.
As for the Holloway family, their daughter’s disappearance in 2005 remains a mystery and her body has yet to be found. They might not have any closure as to what happened to their daughter, but they’re happy Joran van der Sloot is finally being tried on the extortion and wire fraud charges after 13 years.
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