Peru court sentences Van der Sloot to 28 years

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LIMA, Peru — A Peruvian court on Friday sentenced Joran van der Sloot to 28 years in prison for murder of a young woman he met at a Lima casino, even as the family of U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway sought to have him prosecuted in the U.S. over her disappearance in 2005.

The decision comes two days after the young Dutchman pleaded guilty to killing Stephany Flores, a 21-year-old business student.

The court also ordered him to pay $75,000 in reparations to the victim’s family, deeming the killing “cruel” and “ferocious.”

Van der Sloot showed no emotion as the court clerk read the sentence, describing how he elbowed Flores in the face then beat and strangled her with his bloodied shirt. He told the court he would appeal the sentence.

It is the first ever imposed on him, despite prosecutors’ repeated efforts to prove he was involved in Holloway’s apparent death on the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba.

The judges said that due to time already served, van der Sloot’s sentence would end in June 2038. But under Peru’s penal system, Van der Sloot could become eligible for parole after serving half of the sentence with good behavior, including work and study.

The prosecution had sought a 30-year sentence for first-degree murder and theft.

Van der Sloot’s lawyer argued he killed Flores on May 30, 2010, in a fit of rage he blamed on psychological trauma from being hounded as the prime suspect in Holloway case.

The victim’s father, Ricardo Flores, complained after the sentencing that Van der Sloot was living well in a Lima prison, where he has been set apart from the general population.

“A jail isn’t a five-star hotel,” Ricardo Flores told reporters. “Let’s hope the authorities take that into account and not just in our case.”

“Since the first day we’ve been complaining about the excessive privileges” that Van der Sloot allegedly enjoyed in jail. He said he would present evidence of that at a news conference on Monday.

Unconfirmed news reports, denied by penal authorities, say Van der Sloot has also had a television and video gaming console. As in many developing nations, foreigners with money can buy superior treatment in Peru’s prisons.

The Holloway case remains open and a U.S. judge on Thursday declared her dead.

Her parents want Van der Sloot to eventually be extradited to the U.S. and tried on related charges, although Peruvian criminal law expert Luis Lamas said the law specifies that Van der Sloot must serve his time before he can be extradited.

Van der Sloot was indicted on extortion charges in Alabama the same day he was arrested for the Flores murder for allegedly accepting $25,000 in return for a promise to lead a lawyer for Holloway’s mother to her daughter’s remains.

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