Joran van der Sloot captured in Chile

Chile police have detained Joran van der Sloot, a Dutch poker player and a prime suspect in the death of a woman in Peru. Van der Sloot was also a suspect in the 2005 disappearance of American tourist Natalee Holloway in Aruba.

By , Correspondent

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    Chile's investigative police officers escort Dutch citizen Joran van der Sloot, center, to a jail in Santiago, Thursday. Peruvian police were seeking van der Sloot in connection with the May 30 killing of 21-year-old Stephany Flores at a Lima hotel.
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The manhunt for Joran van der Sloot is over.

Mr. van der Sloot was taken into custody by Chilean police, after a taxi he was riding in was stopped around midday on Route 68 coming from the coastal city of Viña del Mar, Douglas Rodriguez, Chile police inspector in Arica, told the Monitor.

Chilean police say van der Sloot is being held in Santiago, and they are awaiting orders on how to proceed with the Dutchman.

"He will either be returned to Peru or released under supervision in Chile, however both paths eventually lead to his return to Lima," says Inspector Rodriguez.

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Van der Sloot – once a suspect in the 2005 disappearance in Aruba of US teen Natalee Holloway – is wanted n Peru for questioning in the case of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, found dead in a Lima hotel room Wednesday.

On May 31, Mr. van der Sloot, entered Chile on a tourist visa, accompanied by two Peruvians, who returned to Peru three hours later, according to Chilean police.

The police had focused their manhunt on Chile's northern desert provinces, where van der Sloot may have been trying to flee to Argentina or Bolivia, according to Chilean police.

Chilean Police set up check points on the roads and prior to his capture, Rodriquez told the Monitor that "we are working with Putre, a small town with a large number of European residents where we believe there is still a good chance of finding him."

Chilean police have only been asked by Interpol in Lima to locate van der Sloot, "but at this time we have no order to capture or detain the suspect in Chile," Rodriguez said.

"There are a lot of Peruvian residents in Chile, and these people who left with the suspect could be linked to this case, though nothing has been established at this time," Rodriguez says of the Peruvian passengers who accompanied van der Sloot into the country.

In Lima, Peru, police General Cesar Guardia told reporters that the slain woman was found Wednesday in the hotel room where van der Sloot had been staying.

There were abrasions on her face and body, and signs of trauma, but investigators were awaiting an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Gen. Guardia said van der Sloot, in Peru for a poker tournament, was identified in a casino video recording with Ramírez in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A hotel employee also told police the Dutchman entered his room with Ramírez around 5 a.m. and he departed alone several hours later.

"We have convincing incriminating evidence," Guardia said at a news conference. "We have testimony from a hotel employee who saw the victim accompany [van der Sloot] to his room...at 5 in the morning. Approximately four hours later he left the hotel."

Ramírez is the daughter of former presidential candidate and prominent local businessman Ricardo Flores.

Van der Sloot is still a suspect in the unsolved May 30, 2005, disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway.

A lawyer for van der Sloot in New York, Joe Tacopina, told the Associated Press that he did not know his client's whereabouts and had not been in touch with him since the Peru allegations emerged. Mr. Tacopina cautioned against a rush to judgment.

"Joran van der Sloot has been falsely accused of murder once before. The fact is he wears a bull's-eye on his back now and he is a quote-unquote usual suspect when it comes to allegations of foul play," Tacopina said.

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