If the trial of Dutchman Joran van der Sloot in Peru has not begun within six months, his lawyer Máximo Altez will submit a request for his client to await trial outside prison according to the Dutch press agency ANP.
Joran Van der Sloot was arrested almost a year ago on suspicion of the murder of Peruvian woman Stephany Flores on 30 May 2010.
“The law says a trial should begin within 18 months,” said the lawyer. “If that doesn’t happen the accused should be released. That is not the same as an acquittal.''
Mr Altez expects the Public Prosecution Office to charge Van der Sloot within a month with either first degree murder (premeditated murder) or manslaughter.
If he is charged with manslaughter, Joran van der Sloot will plead guilty. In Peru, murder carries a 35 year maximum sentence. Manslaughter carries 20 years, but his lawyer believes with good behaviour his client could be released after just five or six years.
In case he is charged with murder, the defence is contesting police interrogations of the Dutchman. No official translator was present and Joran van der Sloot was not allowed to phone anyone which is against the rules. These objections have already been rejected, but the defence has filed an appeal. If the defence wins the appeal, it means Joran van der Sloot’s confession is no longer admissible.
Mr Altez is also involved in defending his client against accusations in the US that he tried to blackmail Natalee Holloway’s family in exchange for information on where the body was hidden. The teenager disappeared on the Caribbean island of Aruba exactly five years to the day before the murder of Stephany Flores. It's assumed she is dead but her body was never found. Joran van der Sloot is still the prime suspect although police do not have sufficient evidence to prosecute him. His lawyer claims it is the family who put his client under pressure to reveal the whereabouts of Natalee Holloway’s body and offered five million dollars for information.
Mr Altez denies rumours in the Peruvian media that his client wants to be extradited to the United States. He does not know whether or not the Dutchman will take advantage of new agreements to allow Dutch prisoners to finish their sentences in their home country.
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