LIMA, Peru — Peruvian police officers are itching for the opportunity to grill Joran van der Sloot, a Dutchman accused of murdering a young woman here earlier this week.
Mr. van der Sloot was detained by Chilean police Thursday, a day after the body of 21-year-old Stephany Flores was discovered in a hotel room in Lima.
Police investigators have determined that Ms. Flores, a university student, and van der Sloot, who is 23, met last weekend at a casino. Police have film footage from the Atlantic City Casino in Lima showing the couple leaving together. Police say that Ms. Flores was killed in the early morning hours of May 30; van der Sloot entered Chile the following day at a overland border crossing.
This is the second time van der Sloot has been implicated in a high-profile murder case – with both happening, eerily, on the same day five years apart. He was arrested, but released twice, for the May 30, 2005 murder of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway on the island of Aruba. Her body was never located.
Peru’s police claim that while evidence was sparse in the Holloway case, the same is not true for the crime here.
Evidence of a struggle
Investigators say Flores’s body showed obvious signs of struggle and has provided evidence. There is also the casino video – van der Sloot was in Peru for a poker tournament – and the fact that he rented the room in the Hotel Tac where the murder took place. While unable to provide details, Peruvian police General Cesar Guardia said there was “ample evidence implicating the suspect in this murder.”
Peru’s Interior Ministry has asked Chilean authorities to transport van der Sloot to the border and that he be deported to Peru. Sources in the police department said officers from the National Criminal Investigation Unit were dispatched to the border on Thursday night. They expect van der Sloot to be transferred back to Lima this weekend, at the latest.
The murder of the Peruvian college student has touched the National Police in a particular way. Ricardo Flores, the young woman’s father, is president of the civic committee that supports the police’s internal affairs division. “He is a great man who has always been loyal to the police. We have no doubts that we will solve this case,” says one officer who has worked with Mr. Flores on events organized to help officers in need.
Victim’s father is well-know figure
Flores is also a well-known figure in other Peruvian circles. He is a former race car driver, event promoter, entrepreneur, and occasional politician. He has run for local, legislative, and national office, but has never been elected. He was also implicated, like thousands of other businesspeople and politicians in Peru, in the corruption web that brought down former president Alberto Fujimori’s regime (1990-2000) nearly 10 years ago.
Once back in Peru, van der Sloot will be held for an initial 24-hour arrest warrant. The police can then request that the judge assigned to the case extend the detention for seven to 14 days to further the investigation. The judge will determine whether to keep the suspect behind bars or release him while he awaits trial. The investigative police say van der Sloot is unlikely to be let out on bail.
There was also a new twist in the five-year-old Holloway case as events were unfolding in Peru and Chile. The US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama charged Van der Sloot with fraud as he was being arrested in Chile. The Associated Press reported that the charges relate to him having offered information on the Holloway case in exchange for $250,000.