Peru court sentences Van der Sloot to 28 years for murder

LIMA Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:23pm EST

Dutch citizen Joran Van der Sloot sweats while sitting in the courtroom during the reading of his verdict, in the Lurigancho prison in Lima January 13, 2012.    REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Dutch citizen Joran Van der Sloot sweats while sitting in the courtroom during the reading of his verdict, in the Lurigancho prison in Lima January 13, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Pilar Olivares

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LIMA (Reuters) - Dutch citizen Joran Van der Sloot was sentenced to 28 years in prison by a Peruvian court on Friday for killing a woman in Lima in 2010, exactly five years since 18-year-old Alabama native Natalee Holloway disappeared after spending time with him.

He had accepted homicide and theft charges filed against him in his trial and apologized on Wednesday for killing 21-year-old business student Stephany Flores after meeting her in a casino in Peru's capital.

Van der Sloot, 24, fidgeted nervously and sweated profusely during sentencing and was ordered to pay 200,000 soles ($74,074) to the Flores family. He shook his head afterwards, sighed and was escorted out of the courtroom by guards. He did not say if he would appeal the ruling.

He could conceivably spend less than a decade behind bars because Peru often releases prisoners for good behavior after serving a third of their terms.

Peruvian police said Flores, a highly skilled poker player and the daughter of a wealthy businessman, was robbed and killed on May 30, 2010, five years to the day after U.S. citizen Holloway vanished during a high school graduation trip to the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba.

Van der Sloot has told police he strangled, beat and suffocated Flores after he found her looking at his laptop computer in his hotel room. The laptop contained emails about Holloway's death.

He fled to Chile after Flores' death but was arrested there and returned to Peru for questioning.

The Flores murder probe brought renewed attention to the case of Holloway, who vanished during a high school graduation trip to Aruba, where Van der Sloot was living.

Van der Sloot was arrested twice in the Holloway case but he was never charged due to a lack of evidence as they never found her body. An Alabama judge declared her dead on Thursday.

Holloway's family has criticized Dutch authorities for not making more progress in the case.

(Reporting By Guillermo Garcia and Terry Wade)

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