January 12, 2012 in Nation/World

Van der Sloot pleads guilty to murder

His lawyer claims ‘psychological trauma’
Frank Bajak Associated Press
 

Van der Sloot
(Full-size photo)

LIMA, Peru – Joran van der Sloot pleaded guilty on Wednesday to the 2010 murder of a young Peruvian woman who was killed five years to the day after the unsolved disappearance in Aruba of an American teen in which he remains the main suspect.

“Yes, I want to plead guilty. I wanted from the first moment to confess sincerely,” he told the panel of three judges that will decide his fate, hoping for a reduced sentence. “I truly am sorry for this act. I feel very bad.”

Prosecutors are asking for a 30-year prison sentence under charges that carry a 15-year minimum term.

The 24-year-old Dutch citizen did not show emotion during his brief confession in fractured Spanish and did not call on the services of a Dutch translator provided for the proceeding.

He bowed his head later when his lawyer, Jose Jimenez, argued that he killed Stephany Flores, 21, as a result of “extreme psychological trauma” he suffered from being “persecuted” over the disappearance of Natalee Holloway on the Caribbean island of Aruba, “something he says he never did and for which no evidence at all exists.”

He said judges, in sentencing, should consider the “post-traumatic stress” his client suffered.

The judges have 48 hours to render a sentence, and the presiding magistrate, Victoria Montoya, said it would reconvene Friday to do so.

Van der Sloot’s trial opened last week but was adjourned to Wednesday after he asked for more time to decide how to plead. He said then that he was inclined to confess but did not accept the aggravated murder charges the prosecution sought.

Van der Sloot, who wore faded jeans and an untucked light-blue button-down shirt, had confessed to the May 30, 2010, killing long ago.

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