A Peruvian court will soon issue a decision on whether to allow convicted killer Joran van der Sloot to be extradited to the United States on charges of extortion in the case of Natalee Holloway.
The Dutchman may have far worse charges to fear, however, according to an international defense expert who said the extortion extradition is a ruse.
"With all the bad guys running around -- Al Qaeda and other international terrorists -- do you really think the U.S. is going to go after every guy who tries to extort money from a U.S. citizen? Absolutely not. The U.S. wants to get ahold of him and charge him with Holloway's murder," said Michael Griffith, senior partner at the International Legal Defense Counsel.
A U.S. federal grand jury indicted van der Sloot in June 2010, for soliciting money from Beth Holloway in exchange for information about her daughter, Natalee Holloway. The 18-year-old from Alabama disappeared on a trip to Aruba in 2005.
Holloway's classmates said they last saw her leaving Carlos 'n Charlie's nightclub with van der Sloot, then a 17-year-old Dutch honors student living in Aruba, and his two friends, Surinamese brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe. All three young men were arrested in the case, but then were released and never charged.
The alleged extortion plot began in March 2010, when van der Sloot reportedly agreed to provide Beth Holloway with details on her daughter's death and the location of her body in exchange for $250,000. A Holloway family attorney working with the FBI provided van der Sloot with an initial payment of $10,000 in cash and wired him an additional $15,000. Beth Holloway was to pay the remaining $225,000 upon confirmation of her daughter's remains.
Van der Sloot kept the $25,000, but later confirmed by email that the information he provided was "worthless," according to the indictment.
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Joran van der Sloot
As authorities continued to build their case, van der Sloot used the $25,000 to fund a trip to play in a poker tournament in Peru, where he was arrested for the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores. The Peruvian business student was found stabbed to death in van der Sloot's Lima hotel room on June 2, 2010. Police in Peru say Flores was killed on May 30, the five-year anniversary of Holloway's disappearance.
On Jan. 13, van der Sloot, 24, was sentenced to 28 years in prison for the murder of Stephany Flores. He could be paroled after serving one-third of his sentence.
The process to extradite van der Sloot from Peru began in April, when a Peruvian judge approved a U.S. request for a provisional detention.
On Tuesday, van der Sloot and his attorney appeared in court opposite representatives from the U.S. Embassy and the FBI. During the three-hour proceeding, U.S. officials presented their case against van der Sloot. Afterward, Judge Zenaida Vilca went over the details of the extradition request with the Dutchman. His attorney, Maximo Altez, said his client was against the extradition and said he did not feel he would get a fair trial in the U.S.
"In the United States, they would find him guilty. Over there, Joran is, after Osama bin Laden, the most hated person there is," Altez told AFP.
No decision was made at the close of the hearing. Vilca will make his recommendation to Peru's Supreme Court and if the court approves it, the case will go to the Ministry of Justice in Peru for a final decision.
If extradited and convicted in the U.S., van der Sloot would face a five- to 10-year sentence for the alleged extortion. Under the U.S.-Peru extradition treaty, van der Sloot could be extradited only if he returns to complete his 28-year prison sentence. However, if his client is extradited, Altaz said he doubts van der Sloot would be returned to Peru.
"Once he's in the U.S., there are no guarantees that he would not be charged with Holloway's murder," Altaz told ABC News.
Griffith, a veteran attorney who has counseled and represented clients in more than 40 countries, also doubts van der Sloot would be returned to Peru.
"It would be too much trouble and Peru would be getting rid of a huge public relations problem," Griffith said. "This case has cast a spotlight on their country and their prisons and, of course, they don't like that. They don't want their dirty clothes hung out in front of the press and that's what's been happening."
PHOTOS: JORAN VAN DER SLOOT (Article Continues Below)
Griffith said it is also likely that Ricardo Flores, father of Stephany Flores and a respected businessman who once ran for president, would likely support van der Sloot's possible incarceration in the U.S.
"Van der Sloot is living like a king in that foreign prison," Griffith said. "In the States, they would probably put him in a supermax prison, where he would be on lockdown 23 hours a day."
Griffin could be right about Ricardo Flores. In January, Flores complained to reporters that van der Sloot was enjoying favorable conditions in a Lima prison. "A jail isn't a five-star hotel," Flores said.
In regard to Holloway, Altaz told ABC News, "no such evidence exists" connecting his client to Holloway's murder.
Van der Sloot has, however, allegedly made multiple confessions in the case that may come back to haunt him:
- In June 2005, he told police that he and Deepak and Satish Kalpoe went for a car ride with Holloway and then dropped her off at her hotel, where they last saw her stumbling toward the lobby.
- Roughly five days later, van der Sloot gave a slightly different version to police, claiming he and Holloway had gone to a beach, but that she had insisted on being left there when he decided to catch a ride home.
- In February 2006, a Dutch television station aired a hidden-camera confession that van der Sloot had made, claiming Holloway had died of a drug overdose at the beach and that he and a friend had dumped her body at sea. Following the broadcast, van der Sloot acknowledged making the comments, but said they were lies.
- In November 2008, van der Sloot told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren that he had sold Holloway for $10,000 to a man he met in a casino. After the interview, van der Sloot called Fox and said he had been lying.
- In March 2010, yet another statement by van der Sloot to the media was made public. In a 2009 interview with the German news agency RTL, van der Sloot said Holloway "fell" from a balcony and was killed. He hid Holloway's body in a swamp because he was afraid of being prosecuted, according to reports of the interview, which never aired.
While the confessions alone might not be enough, Griffith said authorities in the U.S. could target the Kalpoe brothers -- even though neither is considered a suspect or person of interest in the case.
"They could put pressure on them -- say to their lawyers, 'we want to serve you with a subpoena and we want their cooperation and we'll give them immunity from any charges. If you don't, we'll give their names to Interpol and have them added to the stop list.'"
Griffith added, "They could be the weak link in the chain. They were with him that night."
According to Peruvian media outlets, a decision on the indictment could take several weeks.
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