Joran van der Sloot, the chief suspect in the disappearance of US high school graduate Natalee Holloway, has been detained in Chile on suspicion of murder.
Van der Sloot is suspected of having beaten a Peruvian woman to death in a hotel room in Lima, the capital of neighbouring Peru. The murder of 21-year-old Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramírez took place on Monday morning, and the room was booked in the name of Joran van der Sloot.
Van der Sloot and Ms Ramírez are reported to have visited a casino before the murder, and security camera images reportedly show the couple leaving it together. Hotel employees have also stated that they saw the two together. Peruvian police are said to have found Joran van der Sloot’s footprints.
The events took place in Miraflores, a rich district of Lima, famed for its many shops, restaurants and clubs and known to be a popular spot for people in their teens and twenties. Ms Ramírez was the daughter of Ricardo Flores, a noted Peruvian businessman and racing driver. He has recounted the story of his daughter’s murder on national television.
Joran van der Sloot fled from Peru to Chile earlier this week. At the time of his arrest, he was travelling by taxi from the coastal town of Viña del Mar to the capital Santiago. He will be transferred to Santiago where he will be required to make a written statement. His identity papers will be confiscated. The international warrant for his arrest is expected to arrive in about three to five days.
Deputy chief of the Chilean immigration police Fernando Ovalle has told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that Joran says he feels safe and trusts the Chilean police. Mr Ovalle says Joran van der Sloot speaks decent Spanish. He is now waiting for a representative of the Dutch embassy in Santiago. Van der sloot has not been officially arrested because Peru has not yet issued the international warrant for his arrest.
Listen to Peruvian journalist Pamela Montes, speaking to RNW's Willemien Groot:
Joran van der Sloot (now 22) has long been the chief suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, who went missing on the Caribbean island of Aruba in 2005. No trace of her has ever been found and Aruban police and justice officials still have no concrete evidence about what happened to her. On separate occasions since, Joran van der Sloot claimed to have helped dispose of her body and also to have sold her into slavery. He later retracted both statements.
The latest developments in the Joran van der Sloot saga have captured the imagination of many news media around the world.
Peru's daily El Comercio wrote, "Dutchman who presumably killed Stephany Flores also implicated in cases of pimping", devoting considerable space on its website to the recent murder and to Joran's past "as a pimp".
With the main suspect in the Natalee Holloway disappearance case back in the limelight, US media are following suit. CBS for a while opened its website with "Joran van der Sloot Eyed for Murder in Peru; Previously Detained in Natalee Holloway Case", triggering a flood of online reactions. ABC News, too, has been receiving lots of responses to the latest development.
In Peru, RPP Noticias says its reporters spoke to two brothers who took Joran van der Sloot to the Chilean border town of Arica. "We didn't talk, he didn't speak any Spanish. All he did was wake up, smoke and fall asleep again," the brothers say on the Peruvian news site. They described Joran as wearing shorts, white sneakers and carrying two suitcases.
Links to some of the media mentioned:
- ABC News about Joran van der Sloot
- NECN (New England Cable News): Joran van der Sloot wanted for murder
- El Comercio about the killing of Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramírez (in Spanish)
And in the course of Thursday, both Joran and Sloot became top-10 trending topics at Twitter. This merely means that many people are tweeting about these topics, not necessarily that any new information is emanating from them.