Joran van der Sloot may never testify about Natalee Holloway’s disappearance in Aruba. Even if he is not killed in a Peruvian prison, as many fear will happen, The Daily Beast has learned that international red tape has led Aruban authorities to shut down their investigation—and now his lawyer has quit. Barbie Latza Nadeau on how Stephany Flores’ murder case in Peru may prevent justice for Holloway.
The private defense lawyer, Maximo Alonso Altez Navarro, hired by the family of Joran van der Sloot, told reporters on Tuesday that he has quit.
A source revealed to The Daily Beast that Mr. Altez Navarro had complained that the Van der Sloot family could not afford to pay for his services. He added he'd received threats and harassment during his representation of Joran van der Sloot.
The Peruvian defense attorney, who divides his time between Miami and Lima, had said he planned to ask the judge in the case to disregard van der Sloot's confession because he was not properly represented when interrogated. This was rejected by the Peruvian police.
It is unlikely that Van der Sloot will ever return to Aruba to face justice there—at least not in the near future.
The killing of Stephany Flores has been the highest profile murder case in Peru for years and the Dutchman has attracted a significant amount of public anger. Anita van der Sloot, Joran's mother, is expected to arrive in Peru this week accompanied by a Dutch television crew.
Joran van der Sloot may never get the chance to testify about what happened to American teen Natalee Holloway who disappeared in Aruba on May 30, 2005. If he is not killed in prison, he may never be given the opportunity to talk about the Aruba case again—even if he wants to.
Van der Sloot’s confession in the murder of Stephany Flores has been enough for many to assume his guilt in the Holloway case as well. But it is unlikely that Van der Sloot will ever return to Aruba to face justice there–at least not in the near future. The attorney general in Aruba says that now that Van der Sloot has been charged and remanded for murder in Peru, they have to wait until after his trial—and perhaps until after his sentence ends—to question him again in the Aruba case. There is no extradition agreement between Peru and the Netherlands Antilles, and Aruban investigators have so far been denied access to van der Sloot. There is currently no direct line of communication coming out of Peru, and Aruban investigators have admitted they have to rely on media reports to follow developments in the case. “Understandably, the Peruvians are concentrating on the death of their national first,” Taco Stein, attorney general for Aruba, told The Daily Beast. “We hope that once a trial has been fixed, we can initiate the proper channels to formally talk to him once again.”
Authorities in Aruba are also concerned that the 22-year-old Dutchman will be killed by a henchman in the notorious Miguel Castro Castro prison, where he may wait years for his trial to begin. He is on suicide watch and has limited access to funds in a prison where he must pay for his own food. Even if he survives the dangerous prison, he could also choose to keep the location of Holloway’s body a secret, using the information to barter for money or to try to get back to Aruba like he did last week during an intense interrogation in Lima, when he tried to leverage the information to be released to Aruban authorities. When Peruvian authorities refused to send him back to Aruba, he clammed up. “He let slip that he knew the place where this person was buried,” General Cesar Guardia told reporters in Peru last week. “But he would only testify before Aruba authorities.”
Authorities in the United States are expected to hit the same dead end with extortion charges lodged against Van der Sloot in Alabama. In late April of this year, Van der Sloot reached out to Holloway’s mother Beth Twitty through attorney John Q. Kelly, promising that he would finally tell her where her daughter’s body was buried in exchange for $250,000. Holloway’s attorney met Van der Sloot in Aruba and told the NBC Today show that he lured him with $100. He then contacted the Aruban authorities and the FBI who set up a joint sting operation. “It was a win-win situation. He was either going to pay the money, and if the information turned out to be true, Beth would get closure, she’d bring Natalee home,” Kelly told NBC. “Assuming it was false, it would be extortion and wire fraud once falsehoods are proven. Either way, he’d be boxed in.”
• Dan Collyns & Barbie Latza Nadeau: Van der Sloot’s Latest Lie• Barbie Latza Nadeau & Dan Collyns: Van der Sloot Tells AllVan der Sloot was eventually paid $25,000 in cash and wire transfers to his Dutch bank account, but fled to Peru before the next scheduled meeting was to take place. Kelly is deeply disappointed in the failed attempt, and the FBI has washed its hands of any responsibility in Flores’ murder. In a press release posted on the FBI website, they explain that because Van der Sloot was in Aruba when he contacted Kelly, they did not have enough of a case to bust the Dutch man. The statement says: “News accounts have also questioned why charges were not brought earlier, so that the tragic death of Stephany Flores could have been avoided … Despite having been in motion for several weeks at the time of Miss Flores’ death, it was not sufficiently developed to bring charges prior to the time Van der Sloot left Aruba.”
But even if he had stayed, it is unlikely he would have been held accountable for Holloway’s murder, even if he had told Holloway’s attorneys exactly what happened. Aruban authorities have never had great success investigating Van der Sloot, who, along with Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, has been arrested twice in connection with Holloway’s murder. Both times they were released due to lack of evidence—mainly Holloway’s body.
Had Van der Sloot stayed in Aruba, the American extortion case would have likely stuck. Kelly says he believes he would have been convicted of extortion. Doing time in an Alabama jail could have easily softened him up to finally tell the truth about Holloway. Doing time in Peru will likely have the opposite effect.
Bizarre re-enactment account of what happened by Aruban police.
Barbie Latza Nadeau, author of the Beast Book Angel Face, about Amanda Knox, has reported from Italy for Newsweek since 1997. She also writes for CNN Traveller, Budget Travel Magazine and Frommer's.
Dan Collyns is a freelance multi-media journalist reporting for the BBC from Peru since 2006. He's also written for The Guardian, The Independent, and Agence France Presse, and reported for PRI, CBC, CBS and NPR radio.