Dutch murder suspect handed over to Peru

5th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Dutchman suspected in the murder of a Peruvian woman last week and the disappearance of a US teenager in Aruba five years ago was deported to Peru Friday, one day after being arrested in Chile.

Joran van der Sloot, 22, was handed over to Peruvian police at the border after being flown from the Chilean capital Santiago under escort, said an AFP journalist at the Peruvian border town of Tacna.

The athletic-looking suspect, who appeared in good health, was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Peruvian police said he would be taken to Lima later Friday, after paperwork was completed. A judge in the Peruvian capital would decide whether he would remain in custody or freed on bail pending the results of the investigation.

Van der Sloot is the prime suspect in the May 30 murder of Stephany Flores Ramirez, the 21-year-old daughter of a Peruvian former race car driver.

Her body was found Tuesday, two days after she was killed, in a cheap hotel room in an upmarket area of Peru's capital.

Initially said to have been stabbed, a forensic report later showed she had suffered severe blows to the head and a broken neck.

Peruvian police say Van der Sloot was seen entering the hotel with the victim, according to witnesses. Video footage showed the two had spent time together at a casino beforehand.

Van der Sloot left Lima the day after the murder for Chile in a 1,300-kilometer (800-mile), 620-dollar taxi ride to the border, investigators said.

He was apprehended in Chile on Thursday when he was spotted in another taxi going from the coastal resort town of Vina del Mar to the capital Santiago.

Van der Sloot was at the center of another criminal inquiry in 2005, when he was named as a key suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, an 18-year-old US student visiting the Dutch-run Caribbean island of Aruba.

In that case, Van der Sloot was twice arrested, but charges were never brought against him because of lack of evidence. Holloway's body was never found.

Van der Sloot was later videotaped saying Holloway died after suffering a seizure and that an acquaintance helped him dump the body into the sea.

Subsequently, Van der Sloot denied that and said he had made the comments under the influence of marijuana.

Fernando Ovalle, the Chilean police official in charge of the suspect's detention and deportation, said Van der Sloot had given a statement Friday in fluent Spanish "denying all participation in the charges leveled against him" in the Peru murder.

"He only acknowledged that he knew her (Flores)" and stated that "at some point they had gone to a casino," Ovalle said.

Police said Van der Sloot had undergone a medical examination to note any cuts, and his belongings had been recovered from Vina del Mar as possible evidence.

The father of the slain woman, Peruvian businessman Ricardo Flores Chipoco, said: "I hope the authorities bring him to Peru to be tried not only for the crime against my daughter; there is a pending crime in Aruba and we do not know how many more have gone unpunished."

He told reporters his daughter was killed at dawn last Sunday after meeting Van der Sloot in a casino.

Media reports highlighted two similarities in the cases in Peru and in Aruba: in both cases, the women were seen with Van der Sloot in a casino, and both met their fates on the date of May 30.

Peru's Interior Minister Octavio Salazar said of Van der Sloot: "We are probably talking about a serial killer."

He suggested that maybe more crimes might come to light in Colombia, from where Van der Sloot entered Peru on May 14, according to immigration records.

If convicted in Flores's murder, Van der Sloot risks up to 25 years in prison in Peru.

© 2010 AFP

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