A convicted killer imprisoned in Peru will be handed over to U.S. authorities to face extortion and fraud charges there stemming from the unsolved 2005 disappearance and presumed murder of an Alabama teenager, the Lima government said on Wednesday.
The executive order from Peru’s Council of Ministers allowing the temporary extradition of Joran van der Sloot marked the latest twist in nearly 20 years of the mystery surrounding the fate of Natalee Holloway.
The 18-year-old suburban Birmingham resident vanished during a high school graduation trip to the Caribbean island of Aruba in May 2005, prompting an exhaustive investigation and intense media attention. Authorities have said she was last seen with Van der Sloot and another man.
Van der Sloot, a Dutch national from Aruba, was arrested in the Holloway disappearance but never charged with her alleged abduction. The teen’s remains have never been found but an Alabama judge declared her legally dead in January 2012.
That same year, van der Sloot was sentenced to 28 years in prison in Peru after he confessed to strangling, beating and suffocating a 21-year-old Peruvian business student, Stephany Flores.
He made headlines again in 2014 when his lawyer reported that Van der Sloot had been stabbed in prison, though penitentiary authorities said he likely hurt himself.
The executive order clearing the way for his extradition to the U.S. was announced in a statement from the Peruvian Embassy in Washington.
Under an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, according to the statement, he will face extortion and wire fraud charges “as part of a scheme to supposedly lead the (Holloway family) to the body of their deceased daughter.”
No mention was made of whether van der Sloot might also face Alabama state charges stemming from the teen’s death itself, and there was no immediate word from U.S. officials as to whether that was possible under Washington’s extradition treaty with Lima.