LIMA -- Peru's top court has ruled Dutch citizen Joran van der Sloot can be extradited to the United States in connection with the 2005 disappearance in Aruba of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway - but only after serving a 28-year Peruvian prison sentence for murder.
According to documents seen by Reuters, Peru's Supreme Court decided last week that Van der Sloot's extradition must wait until he serves out his sentence for the 2010 killing of a young Peruvian business student in Lima. The sentence handed down in January is under appeal.
Van der Sloot, 24, is wanted in the United States for extortion in connection with the unsolved Holloway case in which he was a prime suspect.
The prime suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway could face extradition to the United States from Peru, where he is currently serving a 28-year sentence for the murder of Stephanie Flores. TODAY's Natalie Morales reports.
Van der Sloot's lawyer Maximo Altez defended the extradition delay, saying it would be impossible for his client to get a fair trial in the U.S., Peru's El Comercio reported (Link in Spanish).
"At this moment Joran van der Sloot will not have a fair trial in the United States because he has been satanized by the press, he is looked at like a demon," he told the newspaper.
However, van der Sloot could spend less than a decade behind bars in Peru because the country often frees prisoners for good behavior after serving a third of their terms. His lawyers want his sentence cut anyway.
"We were surprised by how quickly the extradition request was heard," Altez told Reuters. "We think there is a lot of pressure from the U.S. government."
The U.S. embassy in Lima didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. It initiated a process to extradite Van der Sloot to face charges of extortion on January 30.
Prosecutors say van der Sloot, who was arrested but never charged over Holloway's disappearance, tried to get thousands of dollars in cash from her family in exchange for information on the whereabouts of her body.
Holloway was last seen during a graduation trip to the Caribbean island of Aruba.
Van der Sloot's lawyers have argued that post-traumatic stress from the Holloway inquiries led Van der Sloot to kill 21-year-old Stephany Flores in a Lima hotel room after he saw her looking at his laptop, which contained e-mails about the Aruba case. They had met playing poker in a Lima casino.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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