Suspect in Holloway disappearance to appear in federal court for extortion case; plea deal possible

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An attorney for the mother of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway, who disappeared in Aruba, said a possible plea deal with a suspect in an extortion case is contingent upon his disclosing details about her death.

Joran van der Sloot, long considered the chief suspect in Holloway’s 2005 disappearance, is scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday morning in Birmingham, Alabama, for a plea and sentencing hearing for a case in which he is accused of trying to extort $250,000 from Holloway’s mother in 2010 to reveal the location of her daughter’s body.

John Q. Kelly, an attorney who represented Holloway’s mother during the alleged extortion, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that a potential plea deal is contingent upon van der Sloot revealing information about what happened to Holloway. Kelly made the comments previously on NBC’s “Today” show. Emails sent to van der Sloot’s attorney and a spokesperson for federal prosecutors were not immediately returned.

Holloway’s family has long sought answers about her disappearance. But those answers have proven elusive. Van der Sloot has given a variety of conflicting descriptions over the years about what happened, which would likely put raised scrutiny on any new account.

Her family is expected to be in court Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Anna M. Manasco wrote in a Tuesday night order that she will hear victim impact statements from Holloway’s parents and brother — but not others who have asked to do so — before sentencing van der Sloot.

“Holloway family have submitted their own direct statements that express the impact they experienced, in their own words,” the judge wrote.

Holloway went missing during a high school graduation trip with classmates to Aruba. The Alabama teen was last seen leaving a bar with van der Sloot, a student at an international school. The mysterious disappearance sparked years of news coverage and true-crime podcasts, books and movies. Van der Sloot was identified as a main suspect and was detained for questioning but no charges were filed in the case.

A judge declared Holloway dead but her body has never been found.

Prosecutors in the Alabama case said van der Sloot contacted Kelly in 2010 and asked for $250,000 from Beth Holloway to reveal the location of her daughter’s remains. He later agreed to accept $25,000 to disclose the location, and asked for the other $225,000 once the remains were recovered. Van der Sloot said that Holloway was buried in the gravel under the foundation of a house, but later admitted that was untrue, FBI Agent William K. Bryan wrote in a 2010 sworn statement filed in the case.

Van der Sloot moved from Aruba to Peru before he could be arrested in the extortion case. Van der Sloot was extradited to Alabama earlier this year from Peru, where he’s serving a 28-year sentence after confessing to killing a Peruvian woman in 2010.

Peru’s government allowed van der Sloot’s temporary extradition to the U.S. to face charges there. Under a 2001 treaty between the countries, a suspect can be temporarily extradited to face trial in the other country, but must “be returned” after judicial proceedings are concluded.

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