Dutchman Van Der Sloot fights extradition to US

Dutchman Joran van der Sloot, currently serving a 28 years prison sentence for killing a Peruvian woman in 2010, is fighting extradition to the United States where he faces charges of extortion and electronic fraud, his attorney told AFP Tuesday.

In a three-hour closed door hearing at the Piedras Gordas prison just north of Lima, Judge Zenaida Vilca heard US Justice Department officials argue for his extradition. US and Dutch embassy officials were also present.

Van der Sloot is the prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of 18-year-old US college student Natalee Holloway on the Caribbean island of Aruba.

Vilca heard evidence from a court in the US state of Alabama alleging that Van der Sloot extorted $25,000 from Holloway's parents in exchange for information about their daughter. Once he received the money, he allegedly fled to Peru.

Van der Sloot himself spoke out against extradition.

"Joran told the judge that he opposed extradition because in the United States the judicial system is based on juries that are swayed by the news," the Dutchman's lawyer, Maximo Altez, told AFP.

"In the United States they would find him guilty. Over there, Joran is, after Osama bin Laden, the most hated person there is," Altez said.

By Peruvian law, Van Der Sloot could be extradited only if he returns to complete his 28-year prison sentence.

Judge Vilca will deliver her report to Peru's Supreme Court, which in turn will send it to the Justice Ministry and on to the Council of Ministers. A final decision could take weeks.

Van der Sloot was sentenced on January 13 to 28 years in prison after pleading guilty to murdering 21-year-old Stephany Flores on May 30, 2010.

Van der Sloot killed Flores in a hotel in the Miraflores district of Lima after meeting his victim in a casino, where they played poker.

A ruling on the Dutchman's appeal of the sentence is likely in May.

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