Van der Sloot Indicted On Extortion Charge in Holloway Case
Posted: Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 at 10:34 am
A Dutch citizen who is believed to have killed two women, and who is imprisoned in Lima, Peru pending trial for the murder of one of them, has now also been charged with wire fraud and extortion.
Joran van der Sloot, 22, is widely believed to have killed American teen Natalee Holloway, who was on vacation with her school class in Aruba when she disappeared in May 2005. Now Van der Sloot has been indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States on one count each of wire fraud and extortion, after admitting in an interview with the Dutch press that he extorted Holloway’s family for money, by offering to tell them the location of her body.
Van der Sloot had been arrested several times in connection with the disappearance of Holloway, whose body has never been found, but each time was released from custody because of a lack of evidence. In 2008, he made headlines again when an undercover journalist befriended him, then made a video of van der Sloot smoking marijuana and talking about being present during Holloway’s death. He is also suspected of having participated in, or preparing to participate in, the sex trafficking of Thai women.
In late March 2009, Van der Sloot allegedly contacted an attorney representing Holloway’s mother, offering to reveal the location of the slain teen’s body, as well as details surrounding her death, for a payment totaling $250,000. Working together with the FBI and the Aruban authorities, the attorney arrange a sting operation, in which investigators videotaped Van der Sloot accepting a cash payment of $10,000 in addition to a $15,000 wire transfer, in advance against the total. He then told the lawyer that his father had buried Holloway’s remains in the foundation of a house—a claim that was later debunked when authorities found that the house in question had not yet been built at the time of Holloway’s disappearance.
The FBI has been the target of some criticism for not having immediately filed extortion charges against Van der Sloot, who was able to take the money and travel first to Columbia, then to Lima, Peru—where he then allegedly killed a Peruvian student, 21-year-old Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramirez, on May 30, 2010, exactly five years after Holloway’s appearance. Ramirez was found dead in a hotel room registered in Van der Sloot’s name, and video from a casino showed the two playing cards together earlier that evening. Other evidence, including bloody clothes that have tested positive for Ramirez’s DNA, links Van der Sloot to the crime.
Van der Sloot, who is being held in a maximum security Lima prison on charges of first-degree murder and robbery in the Ramirez case, has reportedly offered to exchange information about the death of Natalee Holloway in exchange for transfer to a prison in Aruba, but this request was denied by Peruvian authorities.
According to a Dutch newspaper, Van der Sloot has confessed to the extortion, saying “I wanted to get back at Natalee’s family. Her parents have been making my life tough for five years.”
“When they offered to pay for the girl’s location, I thought: ‘Why not?’” he said in an interview with the newspaper.
His lawyer in the Ramirez case, Maximo Alteza, has claimed that there were mistakes in the translation, however. A Peruvian court is still considering Van der Sloot’s claim that he is being held unlawfully because of mistakes made by the police during the investigation.
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