Wedding Bells for Joran van der Sloot
It’s official! Joran van der Sloot, the 26-year-old Dutch native who was convicted of killing 21-year old Peruvian Stephany Flores in 2010 and twice-jailed under suspicion of killing American teen Natalee Holloway in 2005, is tying the knot sometime before the end of the month.
The news came on Thursday when the official wedding announcement was published in classified section of the La Razon tabloid newspaper. According to the announcement, van der Sloot will wed 24-year-old Leidy Carol Figueroa Uceda, an accountant who lives in Lima. The wedding will take place at the Municipality of Ancon in a special section inside the walls of the Pidras Gordas-Ancon Penitentiary where van der Sloot is serving out a 28-year-sentence for murdering Flores. By law, all intended couples must publish their marital edict ten days before they wed to give any one with just cause a chance to step forward and protest. The edict says “any persons that can express any legal impediment can denounce” the nuptials.
Van Der Sloot has been denied an annulment of his murder sentence, but he has managed enough freedom while behind bars to father the child Uceda is expecting in September. Uceda, whose father runs a concession business inside the prison, regularly made the rounds with the candy and cigarette cart in van der Sloot’s wing. Apparently, the two fell in love and she was able to change van der Sloot’s wicked ways. According to the pre-nuptial psychiatric report all fiancés must undergo prior to marriage in Peru, van der Sloot has shown the “will to change.” According to the report, obtained by The Daily Beast, he also displays “awareness of the crime committed, and is learning basic social skills of communication, tolerance of frustration and empathy” —certainly useful tools in any marriage.
According to the report, van der Sloot has been working on his moral values and conflict resolution, and “claims to have become conscious of the crime committed and the harm caused to the family of the victim and to society.” Van der Sloot, who confessed to killing Flores, says he lost his head when the young Peruvian he met at a poker tournament found sensitive information on his laptop about Natalee Holloway, who he is also suspected of killing. There is no mention of Holloway in the psychiatric report.
The Dutchman may not have faced the truth in his involvement in Holloway’s ultimate demise, but he was, however, convicted of extorting $250,000 from her mother in an apparent exchange for information about where Holloway’s body was hidden. Van der Sloot told Beth Holloway that her daughter was buried under the foundation of a building in Aruba, where she disappeared on a high school trip. Van der Sloot was the last person to see her the night she disappeared. Her body has never been found and van der Sloot has confessed and denied involvement on a number of occasions. At the time of his extortion conviction, van der Sloot showed no remorse for the blackmail. “I wanted to get back at Natalee’s family,” he told Dutch journalist John van den Heuvel during an interview in van der Sloot’s prison cellblock. “When they offered to pay for the girl’s location, I thought, ‘Why not’?”
He may be a changed man now, but he is still a long way from being free. When he completes his sentence in Peru, he could theoretically face extradition proceedings in the United States to serve his extortion sentence, though his lawyer Maximo Altez told The Daily Beast that the statue of limitations will have run out by then. "He'll do nine years in prison and then will be set free on parole,” said Altez in Peru. “He may get a reduction awarded by his studies. In any case, he'll have to finish his 28-year sentence in Peru so the statute of limitations in the state of Arizona will kick-in when he finishes his sentence here and he won't be extradited to the U.S."
While behind bars, van der Sloot has also been pursuing his education by seeking a degree in international business through a correspondence course with the Alas Peruanas, or Peruvian Wings University. “He's also teaching English to other inmates and the guards and he walks around the prison and has great relations with everyone,” Altez said. “He's a likable person and is charismatic. He's very social and plays soccer with the other inmates."
The convicted murderer is also thrilled that he will become a new father in September. "They're expecting a girl and is very happy to be a father. He saw the ultrasound image and was ecstatic. They are both very happy,” Altez said. “His fiancé was pregnant with another man's child when she first met Joran and that baby boy is white, but Joran is not the father. All the prisoners tease him that they look alike, but he isn't the father. Joran does act like a dad though, because he is very loving."
Now all van der Sloot and his bride-to-be have to do is wait out the ten days to see if anyone objects. If all goes forward, the wedding will be attended by two invited guests and a handful of prison inmates. “If no one objects, he will be granted license to marry,” Altez said, adding that they will have to present a request to the prison director to set a definitive date to hold the ceremony inside the prison. He will then hire a car to take the notary public to the prison on the day of the wedding.
The most likely people to object are Holloway’s parents, who so far have not commented on the impending nuptials, and Flores’s father, who has said that he wants the man who killed his daughter to die in prison. "He murdered a girl who is the daughter of an influential entrepreneur of Peru,” said Altez. “I understand the father because of the pain he carries and naturally, he would oppose Joran's parole. We are aware that he will be there to oppose that and complicate it as much as possible. He hasn't said anything about the marriage, though. I don't think that's something that would worry him anyway. I think he's more interested in keeping Joran behind bars."
Despite the murder conviction and suspicion in Holloway’s disappearance, Altez doesn’t understand why anyone would stand in the way of his client’s happiness: "He just wants to be a loving father, husband and he wants to have an education. Why is that such a bad thing? People demonize him instead of applauding the fact that he's trying to re-socialize himself."