Joran van der Sloot murder trial in Peru postponed (+video)
Joran van der Sloot's trial was postponed today in Lima, Peru. Joran van der Sloot is accused of killing a Peruvian woman in 2010 and is suspected in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba five years earlier.
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Van der Sloot's defense attorney, José Luis Jiménez, said prior to the trial that while there is no disputing the murder charge, he will fight for the aggravating circumstances to be dropped.Skip to next paragraph
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“Our job is to show that this was a tragic event that my client did not intend to happen. It was not done out of cruelty and certainly was not premeditated. No one makes the kinds of clumsy mistakes my client made if they had planned a murder,” he said on Thursday outside a Lima courtroom.
If Mr. Jiménez successfully convinces the three-judge panel, van der Sloot could be convicted of manslaughter, which carries a sentence of seven to 20 years.
“He would likely get the maximum sentence, but the law allows for parole after one-third of the sentence is served,” said Jimenez, who took over the case last June after meeting van der Sloot in prison.
Under this scenario, Jiménez said van de Sloot could technically be out of prison in 2017.
Focus on the escape
The defense and prosecution will be using the same information to prove different points.
While Jiménez maintains that the autopsy on Flores only shows that she and van der Sloot fought, the prosecution will focus on the wording of the report. It states that Flores’s skull was fractured and that she suffered significant blows to the face. There was also evidence of asphyxiation.
The prosecution will also focus on van der Sloot’s escape to Chile and attempt to avoid being returned to Peru. He is currently suing the Chilean government for the expulsion, arguing that he legally entered the country and under international law should have faced an extradition process and not summary deportation.
Jiménez sees things differently. Flores’ body was not found until two days after the murder, which he said would have given van der Sloot ample time to flee Peru if the murder had been premeditated. Instead he hailed a taxi – the taxi driver is also on trial for helping van der Sloot escape – and paid to be driven to the border. Investigators who examined his computer turned up Web searches about Dutch nationals entering Chile and the country’s criminal and extradition policies.
“If Joran had planned this murder, as the prosecution claims, he would have planned a getaway. He did not,” said Jiménez.
While not admitting it, Jiménez’s biggest challenge may be van der Sloot’s notoriety and trying to keep the Holloway trial from creeping into the courtroom.
The trial was set to be conducted in a special courtroom in Lima’s largest prison, Lurigancho. It is close to the maximum-security facility where van der Sloot has been held in relative seclusion for the past 18 months.