The main suspect in the unsolved disappearance of American student Natalee Holloway in 2005 has been transferred to a prison near Peru’s capital ahead of his pending extradition to the United States.
Dutch citizen Joran van der Sloot is serving a 28-year sentence for the murder of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman.
Peru’s government approved Van der Sloot’s extradition to the US in May to face trials for alleged extortion and wire fraud charges linked to the Holloway case.
Ms Holloway, who lived in Birmingham, Alabama, was 18 when she went missing on a trip with classmates to the Caribbean island of Aruba.
She disappeared on a night out with friends and was last seen leaving a bar with Van der Sloot, who was a student at an international school on the island.
Van der Sloot, now 35, was identified as a suspect and arrested weeks later along with two Surinamese brothers.
Ms Holloway’s body was never found and no charges were filed in the case. A judge later declared Ms Holloway dead.
The charges he faces at trial relate to an accusation he tried to extort the Holloway family in 2010, promising to lead them to Natalee’s body in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A grand jury indicted him that year on one count each of wire fraud and extortion, with both charges each punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Image: Beth Holloway, mother of Natalee Holloway, speaks during the opening of the Natalee Holloway Resource Centre Pic: AP Máximo Altez, Van der Sloot’s lawyer, said his client was being taken from the Challapalca prison in Peru’s southern Andes to the Piedras Gordas prison on the outskirts of Lima.
Peruvian prison authorities said in a statement: “In the coming days, the INPE (National Penitentiary Institute) will hand over the condemned man to Interpol Peru with the goal of handing him over to US authorities from the FBI.”
Mr Altez said Van der Sloot will be transferred to the US after a medical exam and other administration processes.
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He estimated the extradition could take place on Tuesday but Peruvian authorities did not confirm this.
Mr Altez also indicated his client agreed to the extradition because he would be in a more comfortable prison in the US than in Peru.
“He is imprisoned in the worst prison in the world,” Mr Altez said, referring to the maximum-security Challapalca prison.
“Any prison in the United States is a five-star hotel in comparison,” he said.