(NEW YORK) — Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway, has been severely beaten in Peruvian prison, his lawyer told ABC News on Monday.
Van der Sloot is awaiting extradition to the U.S. on extortion and wire fraud charges stemming from an accusation that he tried to profit from his connection to the Holloway case.
The Dutch citizen has been serving a 28-year sentence in Peru for the 2010 murder of 21-year-old college student Stephany Flores.
Van der Sloot’s Peruvian attorney, Maximo Altez, said he doesn’t believe the beating was related to the upcoming extradition. It may, however, be connected to gang rules inside of the Challapalca Prison, where he’s being held, Altez said.
Van der Sloot is currently in the prison’s medical aisle, Altez said, adding that he’s asking the Peruvian Justice Ministry to transfer him to another prison as soon as possible.
Holloway, 18, went missing in May 2005 while on a graduation trip to Aruba with her Alabama high school classmates. She was last seen driving off with a group of young men, including van der Sloot, then 17.
Van der Sloot, who was identified as a suspect and detained but ultimately released, was indicted by an Alabama federal grand jury in 2010 for allegedly trying to extort Holloway’s family.
Federal prosecutors alleged that in March 2010 van der Sloot contacted Holloway’s mom, Beth Holloway, through her lawyer and claimed he would reveal the location of the teen’s body in exchange for $250,000, with $25,000 paid up-front. During a recorded sting operation, Beth Holloway’s attorney, John Q. Kelly, met with van der Sloot in an Aruba hotel, giving him $10,000 in cash as Beth Holloway wired $15,000 to van der Sloot’s bank account, according to prosecutors.
Then van der Sloot allegedly changed his story about the night he had been with Natalee Holloway, prosecutors said. Van der Sloot claimed he had picked her up but that she had demanded to be put down, so he threw her to the ground. He said her head hit a rock and she was killed instantly by the impact, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said van der Sloot then took Kelly to a house and claimed that his father, who had since died, buried Natalee Holloway’s body in the building’s foundation.
Kelly later emailed Van der Sloot, saying the information he had provided was “worthless,” according to prosecutors. Within days, van der Sloot left Aruba for Peru.
Earlier this month the Peruvian government issued an executive order accepting a request by U.S. authorities for a temporary extradition. An extradition date has not been set.
ABC News’ Morgan Winsor, Emily Shapiro and Ellie Kaufman contributed to this report.
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