Joran Van der Sloot: Fact vs. Fiction and False Reports

Joran Van der Sloot will appear before a judge today in Lima. (Court's press release here, Spanish version here.) The hearing will be at Miguel Castro Castro prison. Again, the media reports are all over the place as to what charges the prosecutor has asked the Judge to consider and who his lawyer will be.

First off, contrary to some news reports Sunday (which appear to be based on this one from Lima, translation here), New York attorney Joe Tacopina is not going to Peru (at least not at this time) but he has been consulting with Joran's mother and assisting her in securing a top attorney in Peru. How do I know? He's a good friend of mine and he just told me.

Second, as I understand them, the charges being contemplated are murder (with special circumstances) and simple theft (not aggravated robbery.) The best source is the Court's press release announcing the charges on June 11, 2010. Translation, followed by Spanish: [More...]

A judge of the Permanent Duty Criminal Court of Lima, Dr. Juan Buendia Valenzuela opened instruction with an arrest warrant against Joran Andreas Petrus van der Sloot as the alleged perpetrator of the crimes of homicide qualified and against property, in the form of simple theft, to the detriment of Stephany Ramirez Flores.

El magistrado del Juzgado Penal de Turno Permanente de la Corte de Lima, doctor Juan Buendía Valenzuela, abrió instrucción con mandato de detención contra Joran Andreas Petrus Van der Sloot como presunto autor de los delitos de homicidio calificado y contra el patrimonio, en la modalidad de hurto simple, en agravio de Stephany Flores Ramírez.

The Peru Penal Code is here. You can read the statutes for yourself.

Simple Theft (Hurto Simple):

Article 185 .- Simple Theft, Article amended by paragraph 1 of Article 29 of Legislative Decree No. 1084, issued on June 28, 2008, which reads as follows:

"Whoever, for profit, unlawfully seized movable property, in whole or in part outside, removing it from the place where found, shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than one nor more than three years. They are comparable to movable electric power, gas, water and energy or any other item that has economic value as well as the electromagnetic spectrum and to fishery resources allocation mechanism of maximum catch per boat. "

Artículo 185.- Hurto Simple (Artículo modificado por el numeral 1 del Artículo 29 del Decreto Legislativo Nº 1084, publicado el 28 junio 2008, cuyo texto es el siguiente:)

“El que, para obtener provecho, se apodera ilegítimamente de un bien mueble, total o parcialmente ajeno, sustrayéndolo del lugar donde se encuentra, será reprimido con pena privativa de libertad no menor de uno ni mayor de tres años. Se equiparan a bien mueble la energía eléctrica, el gas, el agua y cualquier otra energía o elemento que tenga valor económico, así como el espectro electromagnético y también los recursos pesqueros objeto de un mecanismo de asignación de Límites Máximos de Captura por Embarcación.”

The murder charge: From the court's press release:

According to the prosecutor's report, the same that was presented about 04:00 pm today, Van der Sloot would have killed Flores Ramirez with the aggravation of having acted with great ferocity and cruelty, as provided in Article 108 of the Penal Code Sections 1 and 3, which defines the crime of murder.

Here's Article 108, with sections 1 and 3:

Article 108 .- Murder- Murder - Article amended by Article 1 of Law No. 28,878, published on August 17, 2006, which reads as follows:

Shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than fifteen years to kill another meet any of the following circumstances:

1. For ferocity, for profit or pleasure;
2. To facilitate or conceal another crime;
3. With great cruelty or premeditation;
4. For fire, explosion, poison or any other medium capable of endangering the life or health of others;
5. If the victim is a member of the National Police of Peru or of the Armed Forces, Head of the Judiciary or the Public Ministry, in carrying out their duties. "

“Artículo 108.- Homicidio Calificado - Asesinato (*) Artículo modificado por el Artículo 1 de la Ley N° 28878, publicada el 17 agosto 2006, cuyo texto es el siguiente:

Será reprimido con pena privativa de libertad no menor de quince años el que mate a otro concurriendo cualquiera de las circunstancias siguientes:

1. Por ferocidad, por lucro o por placer;
2. Para facilitar u ocultar otro delito;
3. Con gran crueldad o alevosía;
4. Por fuego, explosión, veneno o por cualquier otro medio capaz de poner en peligro la vida o salud de otras personas;
5. Si la víctima es miembro de la Policía Nacional del Perú o de las Fuerzas Armadas, Magistrado del Poder Judicial o del Ministerio Público, en el cumplimiento de sus funciones."

Undoubtedly, Joran would have preferred to be charged with either of the following alternatives:

Article 109 .- homicide violent emotion

He who kills another under the influence of violent emotion that circumstances make it excusable, shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than three nor more than five years.

Artículo 109.- Homicidio por emoción violenta

El que mata a otro bajo el imperio de una emoción violenta que las circunstancias hacen excusable, será reprimido con pena privativa de libertad, no menor de tres ni mayor de cinco años.

Or, Simple Murder under Article 106:

Article 106 .- Simple Murder

He who kills another shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than six nor more than twenty years.

Artículo 106.- Homicidio Simple

El que mata a otro será reprimido con pena privativa de libertad no menor de seis ni mayor de veinte años.

(Bolded emphasis by me.) My understanding is that the hearing the judge is conducting tomorrow is similar to our version of a preliminary hearing -- it's a hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to order the defendant to stand trial on the charges submitted. I assume(but do not know for sure) that the judge, after considering the charges as submitted, could determine that he should stand trial on lesser charges. And again, if he's ordered to stand trial, the trial is before a three judge panel, not a jury.

And contrary to what the "prison expert" who appeared on CBS predicting Joran would be killed in Castro Castro, said this weekend, Peru does indeed have the presumption of innocence. It's right in their Constitution.

Chapter I Fundamental Rights of the Individual

Article 2 Every individual has the right:

...24. to personal freedom and security.


...e) Every person is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

In Spanish:

Artículo 2.- Derechos fundamentales de la persona
Toda persona tiene derecho:
24. A la libertad y a la seguridad personales. En consecuencia:
... e). Toda persona es considerada inocente mientras no se haya declarado judicialmente su responsabilidad.

Next expert, please.

Joran's court appearance is at 10:00 a.m. (The time in Peru is the same as CST.) According to Peru 21 (which contained the misinformation about Joe Tacopina), his current lawyer Maximo Altez Navarro, says Joran won't be making a statement because he wants a re-do of the first interrogation (in which he confessed) and the habeas action he filed last week challenging the confession hasn't been ruled upon yet.

And yes, Peru's Constitution provides for habeas corpus. It also, like Mexico and other Latin American countries, provides for Amparo (another form of constitutional relief, that's different than habeas.)

Offical news updates on the hearing will come from the Court's press office.

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  • Display: Sort:
    What the Heck? (none / 0) (#1)
    by AlohaMade on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 01:08:51 AM EST
    I read earlier that, and correct me if I am wrong, about the "Honesty Policy", if Jorans testimony/confession to the Judge corroborates with his first confession to police he would have a fair trial, but if it did not, the Judge could scentence him right then and there? So now he has an opportunity, to change his original statement, so that it can corroborate with the one he want's to tell the Judge now? How does this guy get so lucky?

    the honest confession (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 01:45:46 AM EST
    is explained here.

    notices (none / 0) (#3)
    by pac on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 03:31:29 AM EST
    Recent notices:

    Beth Twitty who is usually very verbal has been out of character silent for the most part. Her son spoke out with what appeared to be a prepared statement for lack of better words. ? He is not typically the spokesperson?

    The last I heard Mr. Holloway feels that Aruba is now acting properly.

    Somehow it is a little odd to me that Stephany's family would not mind Joran in Aruba considering they said? Aruba failed to do their job...leading to the death of their daughter? I read that somewhere.

    As pointed out on this site, odd timing of Stephany's death. Not only is the timing odd due to the 5th anniversary of Natalee's death but because of Joran's supposed ready to tell all involvement with Kelly, etc.

    Something appears a little odd.

    Joran's hair!  If someone actually made a death threat to Joran, as reported somewhere, I suppose that could be a reason for a hair change?

    Tomorrow will bring new news.

    Organized recklessness? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Untold Story on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 08:59:46 AM EST

    Most surprising is the cooperation given the Holloways by the Flores family, considering that the reckless chaos of $25K given to a suspected murderer cumulated in the death of Stephany!

    Natalee's brother entering as spokesperson - obviously done for a tighter rapport with Stephany's brothers.



    this thread is not about the (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 09:36:36 AM EST
    Holloways. It's about Joran's legal case. Please take Holloway discussions to another thread or elsewhere.

    Presumed innocence is great, but.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by thadjock on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 10:26:55 AM EST
    when the charges against Joran are based on a confession he (at least initially) stated was coerced, it seems like they may view their constitution more as an inconvenient suggestion, than rule of law.

    Speaking of the confession and conflicting reporting, weren't there reports Joran's original Peru attorny dismissed the confession as something that is thrown out all the time and wasn't anything of consequence?

    I am wrong to think the only thing an atty can do for Joran now is try to get the charges reduced and sentenced to as little prison time as possible?  

    If the court accepts Joran's "confession" as an honest one, the defense can't exactly show up in front of the panel of judges and plead him innocent, challenging the evidence the police and prosecution have "collected".  I haven't heard anything about an ongoing investigation to uncover any other possible leads, but I guess if you're the police, once you extract a confession, your job is done. When you already have one worm why add to your work load by opening a whole can.

    The problem is (none / 0) (#7)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 11:36:58 AM EST
    Van Der Sloot has a bad track record when it comes to telling the truth. He's a habitual liar, so a court may find it hard to take him seriously if he gets up and says "I was scared - that's why I confessed."

    Joran's mothers statements (none / 0) (#8)
    by waldenpond on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 11:49:10 AM EST
    Can the judge or prosecutors compel Joran's mother to answer questions regarding her statements in recent interviews if she goes to Peru?  

    I understood that the prosecutors 'may' seek to change the charges.  Isn't the investigation still ongoing?

    As I recall, Jeralyn posted about (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 12:19:00 PM EST
    criminal procedure in Peru, including subpoena power.

    how to evaluate a confession (none / 0) (#10)
    by pac on Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 05:55:56 PM EST
    The other day I read an article which stated Mr. Kelly said something such as Joran had eyes as cold as ice and obviously a psycopath.. If so, then the money was not given to Joran due to an under estimation at that end, whether or not Mr. Kelly's observation was accurate.

    Although I did not follow the story, Nancy Grace was supposedly accused of pounding a woman into suicide. If so, such media pounding of Joran at such a young age?

    Joran's mother's statments only appeared to suggest that the circumstances involving Natalee, which she believed to be innocent, led to extreme persecution which led to Joran being traumatized and needing support. I think she said he "could have" but also "it stinks" suggesting she wasn't presenting a formed opinion. Basically she was saying her attempt was sabatoged by the "disappearance" of her son due to the tampering of others.

    The crime scene photos are awful. Some people might not realize but a broken nose leaves A LOT of blood.

    Somewhere reported that Stephany and her father had a fight and that was the last time he saw her. I am unsure if that is a fact but, if so, could explain Stephany continuing to stay in the hotel room. A set up is easier to comprehend if something happened after Joran left he room. How to explain a detailed confession such as "hit her with an elbow" and so on? or all of that can be coerced?

    Was it a Mansuer family gardener who said he saw three boys in a car? unclear.  Did Jossy Mansuer really say "God forgive him" regarding Mr. VDS at his death? without any proof of wrongdoing?  Some of my reading had to be done quickly so excuse if I misunderstand.