Van der Sloot says "bad advice" behind long Peru term

Mon Jul 2, 2012 10:32pm GMT
 

LIMA (Reuters) - Dutch citizen Joran van der Sloot is frustrated that he ended up with a 28-year prison term after pleading guilty to killing a Peruvian student in 2010 based on legal advice that he would receive a short sentence, his counsel said on Monday.

Van der Sloot - in two handwritten letters provided by his attorney, Max Altez - said he had received "bad legal advice" from a previous lawyer and emphasized that he has a history of psychological problems that Peruvian courts should have weighed during his January trial for the murder of Stephany Flores. His sentence is currently under appeal.

He also asked again for forgiveness from the family of 21-year-old business student Flores, who he killed in a Lima hotel room five years to the day after Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway disappeared on the Dutch island of Aruba.

Van der Sloot, 24, was arrested but never charged over Holloway's disappearance and is slated to be extradited to the United States after serving out his Peruvian sentence.

"My rights have been constantly abused," he said in one of the letters written in late June in which he complained about a lack of due process.

"After bad legal advice in which my lawyer promised me I would receive 15 years if I plead guilty, I did," he said.

He also referred to himself as a psychological "mess" in the letters, which were written in English and contain numerous misspellings and grammatical errors.

"I have a history of psychological problems which were never taken into consideration," he said.

The Flores killing brought renewed attention to the case of Holloway, who vanished during a high school graduation trip to Aruba, where Van der Sloot was living. He was arrested twice in the Holloway case but he was never charged due to a lack of evidence. Holloway's family has criticized Dutch authorities for not making more progress in the case.

U.S. prosecutors say he tried to extort thousands of dollars in cash from Holloway's family in exchange for information on the whereabouts of her body.

Van der Sloot said in the letters he had "nothing to do with" Holloway's disappearance, but said he hoped the Flores family would forgive him for murdering their daughter when he was drunk and high on drugs.

"I ask God everyday that Stephany's parents can find it in their heart to forgive me," he said.

(Reporting By Terry Wade and Reuters Television; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Dutch citizen Joran Van der Sloot walks handcuffed to a courtroom at the Piedras Gordas prison in Lima May 8, 2012. REUTERS/Jose Huaynate
 
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