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Expert: Peruvian Court Won't Toss van der Sloot's Confession

Aug 24, 2010 – 12:46 PM
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David Lohr

David Lohr Senior Crime Reporter

(Aug. 24) -- A Peruvian appellate court will issue a decision this week on whether to uphold the confession of Joran van der Sloot in the brutal slaying of a 21-year-old woman in Lima.

Some in the media speculate that if the confession is thrown out, van der Sloot could walk free. But an international defense expert doesn't believe the judges will even consider throwing out the confession.

"There's not a chance in hell," said Michael Griffith, senior partner at the International Legal Defense Counsel. "The judges live there, and the people know who the judges are. You see where I'm going? This won't be thrown out."
A Peruvian appellate court will issue a decision this week on whether to uphold the confession of Joran van der Sloot, in the brutal slaying of a 21-year-old woman in Lima
Karel Navarro, AP
Joran van der Sloot is escorted by police officers outside of a Peruvian police station in June. A Peruvian court will decide this week whether to uphold his confession in the killing of a young woman in Lima.

And even without the confession, Griffith said, "they have plenty of independent evidence."

Van der Sloot, a longtime suspect in the disappearance of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway, is accused of the May 30 slaying of Stephany Flores. The Peruvian business student was found dead in van der Sloot's hotel room in Lima on June 2. Van der Sloot has been charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the case.

After van der Sloot's arrest, officials in Peru announced he had made a full confession to Flores' murder. Van der Sloot said he broke Flores' neck in a fit of rage after she used his laptop to find out about his involvement in the Holloway case, officials said.

"I did not want to do it," van der Sloot allegedly said about the attack. "The girl intruded into my private life. She had no right. I went to her, and I hit her. She was scared. We argued, and she tried to escape. I grabbed her by the neck, and I hit her."

The Dutchman later retracted that confession, saying he was arrested without a warrant and was not provided with an official translator, which he says caused confusion during questioning. Van der Sloot also said his laptop was improperly searched.

"All this with the intention of pressuring me to accuse [myself] of homicide," the Dutch native said in the complaint, obtained by the Peruvian news program "24 Hours."

In June, Superior Court Judge Wilder Casique Alvizuri spent nearly a week examining the evidence in the case before ruling that van der Sloot's claim that his habeas corpus rights had been violated was "unfounded." Alvizuri said he determined that van der Sloot had not only a state-appointed attorney present during his depositions but also a Dutch-Spanish translator.

Van der Sloot's attorney immediately appealed the decision. The case has since gone before a panel of three Peruvian judges. They are expected to review the details of the confession and issue a ruling sometime this week.

"We believe we did a good job demonstrating that there wasn't an official translator and that his attorney did not have a document accrediting her as his attorney," van der Sloot's attorney, Maximo Altez Navarro, told "In Session" on Aug. 20.

If convicted of Flores' murder, van der Sloot could face 15 to 35 years in prison.

Griffith has counseled and represented clients in more than 40 countries on a variety of charges. His most renowned case, involving an American incarcerated in a Turkish prison, was the basis for the film and book "Midnight Express."

He said he's certain van der Sloot will go to trial, even without the confession. "They have the video of him going in the room, they have DNA [evidence] on his shirt, they have the consciousness of guilt because he tried to flee and they have video tapes [of them together] inside the casino," he said.

"There is more than enough persuasive evidence to hold this case over for trial," Griffith continued. "Take this one to the bank -- you can quote me on that. Case closed."
Filed under: Nation, Crime
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