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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — On Friday, Joran van der Sloot pleaded not guilty regarding charges of fraud and extortion in his initial court appearance Friday morning.
Van der Sloot, who was flown in to Birmingham Thursday from Peru, is facing charges regarding his alleged extortion of Natalee Holloway’s family in 2010. He stood in court at the Hugo L. Black Courthouse and was represented by public defender Kevin Butler.
Natalee Holloway, a Mountain Brook native, disappeared in 2005 while on a senior trip to Aruba. Despite never being charged in the case, van der Sloot was the last man Natalee Holloway’s friends had seen her with and has been considered a prime suspect in her disappearance for the last 18 years.
In 2010, van der Sloot allegedly told the lawyer for Natalee Holloway’s parents that for $25,000, he would tell him where Holloway was buried. As part of that agreement, Holloway’s family agreed to pay him an additional $225,000 if Natalee Holloway was found. However, van der Sloot’s promise came up empty and he eventually fled to Peru.
In 2012, Holloway was declared legally dead by an Alabama judge at the request of her father, Dave Holloway. However, her mother, Beth, has never stopped fighting to get justice for her daughter, and her father has never given up hope to one day find her.
Prior to the hearing, mother Beth Holloway and her family were joined by journalist Greta Van Susteren, a host on Newsmax TV who extensively covered the Holloway case when she worked for Fox News.
Van der Sloot, who was dressed in an Air Jordan T-shirt, briefly wore an ear piece with a Dutch interpretation of the hearing, but ultimately chose not to use it.
Van der Sloot’s trial will begin at an undetermined time. It is unclear whether he will appear in court after his arraighment.
Once his time in Birmingham is complete, van der Sloot will return to Peru to serve out the rest of his sentence for the murder of Stephany Flores. If convicted in the U.S. extortion case, van der Sloot would be required to serve out his sentence once his murder sentence in Peru has been served.