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Van der Sloot’s bid to void confession denied

Associated Press / June 26, 2010

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LIMA — A Peruvian judge denied a defense motion yesterday to void the confession of Joran van der Sloot in the killing of a 21-year-old Lima student because the attorney representing him at the time was state-appointed.

Superior Court Judge Wilder Casique rejected the habeas corpus motion on behalf of van der Sloot, who is jailed pending trial on charges of first-degree murder and robbery in the May 30 death in his hotel room of Stephany Flores, whom he met playing poker in a casino.

Van der Sloot also remains the sole suspect in the unresolved 2005 disappearance of US teenager Natalee Holloway on the Caribbean island of Aruba.

Casique noted in a statement that van der Sloot had, in addition to the lawyer, been given a Dutch-Spanish interpreter vetted by the Dutch Embassy.

Van der Sloot recanted the confession in a jailhouse interview with the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, saying that it was made under duress.

The defendant’s lawyer, Maximo Altez, said he would appeal Casique’s decision to a higher court.

A criminal law specialist, Jose Balcazar, said van der Sloot can continue the appeal but “that will not hold up the case against him.’’

Earlier yesterday, the chief judge of Lima’s Superior Court, Cesar Vega, told reporters that Peruvian laws allow up to six months for murder trials.

But legal specialist Mario Amoretti said that in practice, cases like van der Sloot’s can last 18 months.

Balcazar said the defense will probably try to draw the trial out.

If convicted, van der Sloot faces between 15 and 35 years in prison.

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