Father of Flores faces van der Sloot in court



Joran van der Sloot. (Photo: Andina)

Even though a Peruvian judge postponed a preliminary hearing for Joran van der Sloot Wednesday, it still was a dramatic day in court for the father of the young woman van der Sloot is accused of killing, reports CNN.

Ricardo Flores said Wednesday was the first time he saw the alleged killer of his daughter face to face.

"It was a very tough moment," he told CNN shortly after leaving a courtroom inside Lima’s Castro Castro prison, noting that it seemed van der Sloot was enjoying many privileges. "I thought I’d see someone skinny…but no, he was fatter than when he first went to prison."

The judge rescheduled the closed-door hearing – which involves some evidence in the case – for next Tuesday, because van der Sloot did not have legal representation in the courtroom Wednesday, Flores said.

His daughter, Stephany Flores, was found dead in a Lima hotel room registered to van der Sloot in May 2010. Police say van der Sloot took money and bank cards from her wallet and fled to Chile, where he was arrested a few days later.

Earlier this month, van der Sloot’s defense attorney, Maximo Altez, resigned, citing unspecified differences in strategy.

If van der Sloot does not have an attorney next week, the judge said he would appoint one, Flores said.

The 23-year-old van der Sloot was once the prime suspect in the disappearance in Aruba of American Natalee Holloway, who vanished at age 18 while on a graduation trip. He was arrested twice but never charged in connection with her disappearance.

Shortly after his 2010 arrest, a federal grand jury in Alabama indicted him on charges that he tried to extort $250,000 from the Holloway family. Van der Sloot offered to provide what turned out to be bogus information about the whereabouts of Natalee Holloway’s remains in exchange for the money, according to the indictment.

Peruvian authorities have yet to file formal charges against van der Sloot. Once the discovery phase of the case ends, prosecutors will file charges and a trial date will be set.

It could be weeks before the Peruvian trial begins.

Ricardo Flores said the family hoped van der Sloot would be charged with robbery and homicide, which would carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Before his resignation from the case, Altez told In Session his client attacked Flores after she found something on his computer that tied him to Holloway. He gave In Session a copy of a motion he filed asking that van der Sloot face a lesser charge for a crime of passion.

"My client…admits having murdered the victim, but not with ferocity, for profit or pleasure, nor any of the other element(s) that make up this murder, but only by violent emotion that overtook him at the time he was attacked by the victim," the motion read.

However, Ricardo Flores and Edward Alvarez, an attorney representing the Flores family, argued that a police investigation indicated the last time anyone had searched for information about Holloway on van der Sloot’s computer was the day before Flores’ death — suggesting the attorney’s explanation that van der Sloot attacked Flores after she read an e-mail on his computer was a lie.

"That hypothesis has already been defeated," Ricardo Flores said Wednesday.

Despite the latest delay in the case, he said he was confident that justice would prevail, and that he would be able to face van der Sloot in court again.

"I am confident that God will give me the strength," he said.