Joran van der Sloot is finally, officially, going down. On Friday, the 22-year-old Dutch native was formally charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the death of 21-year-old Peruvian student Stephany Flores, whom he confessed to killing earlier this week. The Peruvian judge who condemned him to one of Lima's most notorious prisons to await trial added that the murder had been committed with "ferocity and great cruelty."
An extraordinary scene unfolded outside Lima's Palace of Justice as Van der Sloot heard the judge's order. Crowds of indignant onlookers flanked the rear entrance of the imposing colonial building as a decoy van marked "AMBULANCE" stopped outside the door. Van der Sloot, clearly identifiable by his height and close-cropped haircut, was the last of 11 suspects police manhandled into the entrance. Onlookers shouted "murderer!" and threw rotten vegetables at him from behind police lining the gap between the van and the door.
"For his own safety we cannot mix him with the other prisoners. This murder case is so infamous that he could easily be killed."
After van der Sloot was loaded back into the van to be transported to Lima's Miguel Castro Castro prison, Police General Cesar Guardia told The Daily Beast that most of what the accused murderer had confessed were blatant lies. "His toxicological report shows no signs that he had ingested any kind of drug," Guardia said, countering van der Sloot's perhaps strategic claim that he was high on marijuana when he killed Flores—in Peru, felony crimes committed under the influence of drugs can be treated with leniency in the courts.
• Barbie Latza Nadeau & Dan Collyns: Van der Sloots Tells AllGuardia also told The Daily Beast that van der Sloot lied about the timing of the murder. Earlier in the week, he told investigators that he had gone out to buy coffee for himself and Flores, and killed her when he returned to the room after finding the young woman on his computer. In fact, according to Guardia, hotel surveillance cameras show that van der Sloot faked his early-morning coffee run. Instead, he left the room with two empty paper cups and then summoned a member of the hotel staff to open his door, lying that he had forgotten his key.
This, according to the Peruvian police, underscores the suspect's attempts to cover his tracks. "In terms of the sequence of events which led him to commit this savage act, it's true he has recounted most of what occurred," Guardia told The Daily Beast. "But he admits there are also some parts which he doesn't remember." Guardia added that he thinks van der Sloot confessed "because the evidence against him was so overwhelming, he was obliged to do so."
Lamenting the final moments of the young woman's life, Guardia says he believes that Flores suffered greatly at the young man's hand. "Can you imagine how she could defend herself against a man who is two meters in height and with his physical build?" he asked. "He gave her a ferocious beating and took the life of a young Peruvian. In doing so he has injured the whole country and he will face justice."
At the very beginning of Van der Sloot's interrogation earlier this week, he hinted that he would reveal what really happened to Natalee Holloway, the young American woman he was suspected of killing in Aruba in 2005—but only if he could be returned to the Aruban authorities to do so. Peruvian police felt that Van der Sloot was trying to leverage information about Holloway in an attempt to be returned to Aruba, where he is perceived to have enjoyed protection from the law thanks to his influential family. "During the interrogation the question subtly slipped out, and he said he would talk to the Aruban authorities about the matter," said Guardia. But in the end, the Peruvians felt that the young Dutchman was simply crying wolf. Van Der Sloot has played the Natalee card on far too many occasions in the past. And Guardia says the Aruban authorities would be able to question Van der Sloot while he's in Peruvian custody.
Now the prisoner is en route to Miguel Castro Castro to be housed with its frightening population of 1,500 inmates. It is a maximum-security facility designed using the American prison model, with a central gun turret and several more on its periphery. The most dangerous murderers and terrorists serve time here, including former members of the leftist Shining Path rebel group and other smaller groups from Peru's 20-year internal conflict in the 1980s and '90s. But van der Sloot will not be part of the general population, at least for now.
"The Dutchman will be held in a solitary cell for at least four or five months," a prison official told The Daily Beast. "For his own safety we cannot mix him with the other prisoners. This murder case is so infamous that he could easily be killed. There are a lot of murderers in this prison, especially hit men who can easily be contracted from outside … To the criminal mind, it's an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. They feel affronted that he's murdered a Peruvian girl and they would kill him for the honor of their country."
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.
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.