Peru’s government has announced that it will allow the extradition of Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of American student Natalee Holloway on the Dutch Caribbean Island of Aruba, to the United States. The move has given hope to Holloway’s family that justice will finally be served in the case.
Van der Sloot, a Dutch citizen, will face trial on charges of extortion and wire fraud, stemming from allegations that he tried to extort the Holloway family after their daughter’s disappearance. Holloway was 18 when she was last seen during a trip with classmates to Aruba. She vanished after a night with friends at a nightclub, leaving a mystery that sparked years of news coverage and countless true-crime podcasts. She was last seen leaving a bar with van der Sloot, who was also 18 at the time.
Van der Sloot was identified as a suspect and detained, along with two Surinamese brothers, weeks later. However, Holloway’s body was never found, and no charges were filed in the case. A judge later declared her dead.
Years later, van der Sloot was arrested in Peru for the 2010 murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, who was killed five years to the day after Holloway’s disappearance. Prosecutors accused van der Sloot of killing Flores, a business student from a prominent family, to rob her after learning she had won money at the casino where the two met. They said he killed her with “ferocity” and “cruelty,” beating then strangling her in his hotel room. He pleaded guilty in 2012, and is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence for the murder.
Van der Sloot’s extradition to the U.S. stems from an alleged attempt to profit from his connection to the Holloway case. A grand jury in Alabama in 2010 indicted van der Sloot on wire fraud and extortion charges, accusing him of trying to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Holloways. Prosecutors in the U.S. allege that van der Sloot accepted $25,000 in cash from Holloway’s family in exchange for a promise to lead them to her body in early 2010, just before he went to Peru.
Peru’s Minister of Justice Daniel Maurate said in a statement Wednesday that the government had decided to “accept the request” from U.S. authorities “for the temporary transfer” of van der Sloot to be prosecuted on extortion and fraud charges. In Peru, all extraditions must be approved by the president.
Beth Holloway, Natalee’s mother, said in a statement that she was blessed to have Natalee in her life for 18 years and that the persistence of many is finally going to pay off. Meanwhile, van der Sloot’s attorney, Maximo Altez, has said that he will fight the decision once he is properly notified by the Peruvian government.