THE prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway has pleaded not guilty following his extradition to the United States.
The 35-year-old Dutch national wore the same blue jeans and white T-shirt when he was taken to Birmingham on Thursday and told the judge his English was “pretty perfect” as he was informed of the charges Alabama Live.
Holloway’s parents, Dave and Beth, and her brother, Matt, were present at the arraignment.
A judge ordered Van der Sloot to remain in custody during his federal trial.
Van der Sloot is accused of trying to blackmail Holloway’s family in 2010 by promising to lead them to her body in exchange for $250,000.
He allegedly told a representative for Holloway’s mother, Beth, that he would take her to the site of her daughter’s body for a $25,000 deposit.
After the body was recovered and it was confirmed that it was the 17-year-old, he is accused of telling her he would then collect the remaining $225,000.
The Dutch national has not been charged in Holloway’s death.
Van der Sloot has been in a Peruvian prison since 2012 for the murder of student Stephany Flores Ramírez in Lima, Peru – five years after Holloway’s disappearance.
He knocked the Peruvian unconscious before suffocating her with his bloodied shirt in a hotel room, which he said was an “impulsive act”.
Van der Sloot pleaded guilty to the murder of Ramirez and was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
NATALEE HOLLOWAY DISAPPEARS
He is the prime suspect in the disappearance of Alabama high school student Holloway, who disappeared on May 30, 2005 while on a graduation trip to Aruba.
17-year-old Holloway and 124 of her classmates partied on the island for four days before spending their final night at Oranjestad’s Carlos’ n Charlie’s bar, investigators found.
The 17-year-old was last seen on May 29, 2005, getting into the back seat of a car with three men.
After Holloway failed to board her return flight home, an extensive search of the island was launched.
Investigators determined that the three men with the high school student were Van der Sloot, then a 17-year-old student at an international school on the island, and two Surinamese brothers.
All three men were arrested but eventually released due to lack of evidence.
Holloway’s body was never recovered and was officially pronounced dead in January 2012.
Peru has agreed to keep Van der Sloot in US custody pending the conclusion of the Alabama case, including any appeals if he is convicted.
After that, US officials will return Van der Sloot to Peru’s custody.