Joran Van der Sloot pleads not guilty to extorsion charges in Natalee Holloway case

It was a packed court room at the Hugo Black Courthouse in Birmingham for the hearing of Joran van der Sloot which started at 11am. Van der Sloot is here in the U.S. to face federal extortion and fraud charges, in an alleged plot to sell information on where Natalee Holloway’s body could be found. Holloway, who is from Mountain Brook, a suburb of Birmingham, disappeared May 30, 2005 while on a graduation trip to Aruba. Van der Sloot was the chief suspect in her disappearance.

Natalee Holloway’s mother Beth, father Dave and brother Matt were at Friday’s hearing. The courtroom was also filled with friends and members of the media.  

During the hearing which lasted less than five minutes, Van der Sloot was read his rights and the defense attorney Kevin Butler entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. The is the first time Beth Holloway was in the same room as the man who is allegedly the last person to see her daughter alive in Aruba. Friday’s hearing comes almost 18 years to the day that Natalee went missing while on a senior trip with her classmates from Mountain Brook High School. 

Carol Standifer, a friend of Beth Holloway, described Beth as emotional and relieved. Holloway was composed while in the courtroom for Friday’s hearing. 

Meanwhile, George Seymour, with Patriot Strategies Public Relations Management Firm, said this is a big day for the family. Seymour said their firm has been representing the family since April. He said this is a step toward closure and peace for Natalee’s family. He described Beth as nervous, overwhelmed and emotional. Seymour also said it was chilling and emotional for Beth to see Joran Van der Sloot walk into the courtroom. This is the closest to justice the family has come in this case. Seymour stated that Holloway has been working hard to keep the story alive surrounding Natalee’s disappearance in Aruba in 2005. Seymour said Holloway is hopeful the truth will come out so she can get justice for Natalee. 

Van der Sloot has a temporary extradition for a year from Peru. He will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service until his trial.

Categories: Alabama News, Crime, Local News