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.
This story has been updated at 1:32 pm ET.
Joran van der Sloot, a Dutch national accused of killing a young Peruvian woman in May 2010 and a US teen five years earlier, told judges Friday he needed more time to decide how to plead in the murder trial against him in Peru, which was intended to open today.
Mr. van der Sloot admitted in a videotape made public last September by the Peruvian police that he killed 21-year-old Stephanie Flores in Lima in the early hours of May 30, 2010. The two had met the previous night at a local casino, where van der Sloot was competing in a poker tournament. They returned to his hotel room, where they fought. The police report showed that there had been a violent struggle.
But today van der Sloot said, "I want to give a sincere confession, but I don't agree with all the charges that [have been] placed on me by the prosecutor. Can I have more time to think about this?"
Judge Victoria Montoya accepted the request for postponement. The trial is expected to resume on Jan. 11.
The day after Flores was murdered, 2010, van der Sloot fled to neighboring Chile, 650 miles to the south. He was detained in Chile on June 5 and was immediately expelled then escorted back to Peru for arrest and interrogation.
Flores’s murder happened five years to the day that Alabama teen Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba, where she was vacationing. Van der Sloot became the prime suspect in that case, but though he was detained twice in relation to Ms. Holloway's disappearance, he was released both times and charges were never filed because Holloway’s remains were never located.
The eventual trial could drag on for months, given the evidence in the Flores murder as well as the circumstance surrounding the Holloway case. While the trial is technically about van der Sloot's culpability, the real issue appears to be how long he will spend in prison.
The state prosecutor’s office is asking for van der Sloot to be found guilty of first-degree murder that was premeditated and “cruelly and ferociously” carried out. The maximum sentence is 30 years, but there is the possibility of parole. The prosecutor originally asked that the charge be aggravated robbery followed by murder, which carries a life sentence without parole. The court rejected that option in November.
Peru’s legal system does allow for the defense or prosecution to request a change in the charges once the trial gets under way.