By Katabella Roberts
The prime suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of American student Natalee Holloway during a school trip to the Dutch Caribbean Island of Aruba is set to be extradited to the United States.
Holloway’s mother, Beth Holloway, announced on May 10 that Dutch citizen Joran van der Sloot will be extradited.
Van der Sloot will face federal wire fraud and extortion charges related to the alleged extortion of the Holloway family in exchange for information about their daughter’s disappearance.
“I was blessed to have had Natalee in my life for 18 years, and as of this month, I have been without her for exactly 18 years,” Beth Holloway said, adding that her daughter would be 36 years old today. “It has been a very long and painful journey, but the persistence of many is going to pay off. Together, we are finally getting justice for Natalee.”
Natalee Holloway, who lived in suburban Birmingham, was 18 when she embarked on a high school graduation trip to Aruba in May 2005. She disappeared after a night with friends at a nightclub and failed to fly home on May 30.
The teen was last seen by classmates leaving a bar with van der Sloot, who was then residing in Aruba, and two local residents in a car. Van der Sloot was arrested but never convicted over Holloway’s disappearance. He was later convicted in the 2010 murder of Stephany Flores Ramírez in Lima, Peru, and is currently serving a 28-year sentence.
Holloway’s body was never found, and no charges were filed in the case. A judge declared Holloway legally dead in 2012.
According to an indictment filed in 2010 (pdf), van der Sloot attempted to extort $250,000 from Beth Holloway in exchange for information revealing the location of Natalee Holloway’s remains.
Prosecutors said in the indictment that Holloway wired approximately $25,000 to Van der Sloot and he later lead the family to a location in Aruba where he said her daughter’s remains were buried but that “this information, as the defendant then knew, was false.”
Suspect Plans to Challenge Extradition
Peru’s government accepted the request from U.S. authorities for the temporary transfer of van der Sloot “for his prosecution in the United States for the alleged commission of the crimes of extortion and fraud, to the grievance of Elizabeth Ann Holloway,” Daniel Maurate Romero, Peru’s minister of justice and human rights, said in a statement.
A 2001 treaty between Peru and the United States allows a suspect to be temporarily extradited to face trial in the other country, although such extraditions must be first approved by the president.
The treaty requires that the prisoner “be returned” after judicial proceedings are over “against that person, in accordance with conditions to be determined by” both countries.
“We hope that this action will enable a process that will help to bring peace to Mrs. Holloway and to her family, who are grieving in the same way that the Flores family in Peru is grieving for the loss of their daughter,” said Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, Peru’s ambassador to the United States, in a statement reported by WVTM 13 Birmingham.
However, attorney Maximo Altez, who represents van der Sloot, said that he plans to fight the extradition once he’s been properly notified by the Peruvian government.
“I am going to challenge that resolution,” Altez said. “I am going to oppose it since he has the right to a defense.”
The Epoch Times has contacted Meza-Cuadra’s office for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.