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Crime

Van der Sloot Sent to Peru After Capture in Chile

Jun 4, 2010 – 10:32 AM
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David Lohr

David Lohr Senior Crime Reporter

(June 4) -- Joran van der Sloot, a longtime suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, has been sent to Peru to face possible charges in the killing of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman.

Van der Sloot, the 22-year-old Dutchman who had been a suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Holloway in Aruba, was handcuffed and placed aboard a police plane in the Chilean capital of Santiago this morning and arrived in Peru this afternoon, The Associated Press reported.

He has insisted that he didn't kill 21-year-old Stephany Flores in a hotel room in the Peruvian capital of Lima, Chilean police said, according to the AP.

Van der Sloot was reportedly traveling alone in a taxi near the Chilean-Peru border when he was apprehended Thursday. He was escorted by three police officers as he was taken into a police office in Santiago. He was not in handcuffs and made no comments as reporters shouted his name, the AP said.

Peruvian police have been seeking van der Sloot in connection with the slaying of Flores, who was found stabbed to death in a Lima hotel room Wednesday morning. The victim was reportedly seen with van der Sloot on May 29 at a Lima casino, where he was said to have been participating in a poker tournament, and on May 30, at the hotel where the victim's body was found.

"Homicide personnel are convinced, due to the incriminating evidence we've found, that this Dutch citizen is the person responsible for killing Stephany Flores," Peruvian Police Gen. Cesar Guardia said at a news conference Wednesday.

Police in Peru say Flores was likely killed on May 30, the five-year anniversary of the disappearance of Holloway, an 18-year-old woman from Mountain Brook, Ala., who vanished while on a trip to Aruba. She was last seen leaving an Oranjestad nightclub with van der Sloot, then a 17-year-old Dutch honors student living in Aruba. Her body has never been found.

Earlier Thursday, Flores' cousin Rafael Vertiz told NBC's "Today" show that he was aware of who van der Sloot was and had recently discussed him with a female friend.

"She had seen a special about the crime that he committed, or allegedly committed, five years ago. And she was shocked by it," Vertiz said.

Vertiz said that his family has been "destroyed" by Flores' slaying and that they are certain van der Sloot was involved. "We don't think anybody else could have done this," he said.

Holloway's mother, Beth Holloway, has yet to comment on the latest developments. Former FBI agent Harold Copus, who worked the investigation as a private detective, told AOL News that Holloway is likely keeping quiet pending the outcome of the investigation.

"There have been so many false starts and turns on this thing that Beth's reaction would be to wait and see what happens," Copus said, adding, "My reaction would be ... justice will be served finally."

There's no word on whether van der Sloot's attorney, Joseph Tacopina, will be traveling to Peru to defend his client. On Wednesday, Tacopina told CNN that people should avoid jumping to conclusions.

"If history teaches us any lesson from [the] van der Sloot-Holloway case, it's that there have been way too many false facts," he said.

Copus said he, too, is skeptical about the level of van der Sloot's alleged involvement.

"This is not stereotypical of [the Holloway case], so it makes me wonder if more than one party is involved, and he panicked and ran," Copus said. "I'm not trying to come across as his biggest fan, but at the same time I can't escape that FBI part of me that says, 'You've got to make a case, whether you like the guy or not.'"

Regardless of his skepticism, Copus said he is hopeful that this most recent development will result in finding out what happened to Holloway.

"If it were me doing the investigation, I would probably be inclined to do a [deal] with him and his lawyers," said Copus. "If he would tell the real story with Natalee. ... I would make a trade. [Peru] does not have a death penalty, so they could offer to put him in a better prison."

Copus said his hope is also banked on van der Sloot having little leverage in Peru, as opposed to Aruba, where his now deceased father was a judge.

"Up until now, he's lived a charmed life," Copus said. "He's been able to talk himself out of everything with little difficulty, and he also had his dad and a system that was a little more lenient. He has none of that now."
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