Video: Guard: Inmates want to kill van der Sloot

  1. Transcript of: Guard: Inmates want to kill van der Sloot

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: And now to the latest on the Joran van der Sloot case and his refusal to speak with a judge during a meeting inside a Peruvian prison. NBC 's Michelle Kosinski is in Lima , Peru , with the very latest. Good morning, Michelle .

    MICHELLE KOSINSKI reporting: Good morning, Meredith . Now that Joran van der Sloot 's case is moving forward after his detailed confession to murder, he is taking a big step back, wanting to recant his explanation of what happened that night asking for a sort of do-over, for police to interview him all over again. They made the long, dusty journey to Castro Castro Prison -- the judge, the lawyers -- to talk to Joran van der Sloot . But he would say not a word. He and his lawyer have a new game plan now, to have Joran 's confession thrown out and for him to be reinterviewed by police . In his words to a Dutch newspaper, "I was tricked, was really scared during the interrogation, confused, just wanted it to end. They kept telling me if you sign these papers, you'll be extradited to the Netherlands . I was in a blind panic and signed everything that was put in front of me." Still, during that confession in which Joran in great detail described savagely beating then suffocating student Stephany Flores , a confession he later repeated to a psychologist, he said, "I will tell the whole truth. I don't want to live with this guilt." At the end, stated he turned himself in voluntarily and didn't want to change anything about what he said. At Castro Castro , amid the barren hills, Joran has had only one visitor besides his attorney, a friend from Holland who brought him several novels; his only personal items now in his private cell. One guard told us other inmates are already talking about killing him if they got the chance. Officials gave us a high security tour of the lockup, surprisingly clean and quiet. In some parts, they let us see, inmates grow roses. `It's elegant here,' jokes one. They make sculptures, delicate ceramics. Here's one of Bart Simpson . Walter Ramos grew up in Los Angeles , now charged here with drug trafficking. He hasn't seen the much talked-about Joran , who has no access to these public areas.

    Mr. WALTER RAMOS (Jailed in Peru): I guess they worry about him so much, you know. They shouldn't be though, shouldn't be because he's safe here.

    KOSINSKI: They only wanted us to see the nice side of Castro Castro Prison . So here, surrounded by flowers and plants, and painted mint green, is the outside of Joran van der Sloot 's cell block, which he now shares with only one other prisoner. Guards kept shooing us away from talking to anyone who wasn't hand-picked. The inmates were polite, smiled and sarcastically chuckled that all is wonderful. Joran , though, complains to the Dutch newspaper that he has had

    unwanted visitors in his cell at night: rats. Before his confession , he did call his mother and tell her that the interrogation was very rude, that he was worried police were trying to railroad him into a confession . His attorney also says that the lawyer who was appointed during that time was inadequate. So now it's up to the judiciary to decide was he wronged during that step of the process, something police here from the beginning have flatly denied. Meredith :

    VIEIRA: All right, Michelle Kosinski , thank you very much . Dan Abrams is NBC 's chief legal analyst. Dan , good morning to you.

    Mr. DAN ABRAMS (NBC News Chief Legal Correspondent): Good morning, Meredith .

    VIEIRA: So van der Sloot meet with this Peruvian judge yesterday...

    Mr. ABRAMS: Yeah.

    VIEIRA: ...refuses to issue a formal statement. Now the judge has to decide whether he will stand trial. What will the judge be looking for?

    Mr. ABRAMS: I -- he's going to be looking whether there's enough evidence to send him to trial, and I think in any country in the world there would be enough evidence. Put aside the confession to take Joran van der Sloot to trial. Remember, we're talk -- focusing now on his alleged confession . In addition to the confession you have all that videotaped evidence. You have the fact that he...

    VIEIRA: You mean the videotape that was within the hotel...

    Mr. ABRAMS: Of course.

    VIEIRA: ...that showed him entering with Stephany Flores and leaving by himself?

    Mr. ABRAMS: Of course. And the fact that they walked in together, that they had left the casino together, that she's then found dead in that hotel room and that he then leaves alone. That's pretty strong evidence in and of itself to send the case to trial.

    VIEIRA: But let's talk about the confession because two weeks ago Joran van der Sloot did confess to killing Stephany Flores and then on Monday he retracted that confession in an interview with a Dutch newspaper. He says he made it under duress, that he was tricked by the police . How will this impact the case? It reminds me of the Natalee Holloway situation where he would confess and then take it back.

    Mr. ABRAMS: Absolutely. Very reminiscent. First of all, just to say you were scared isn't enough to try and retract a confession . There are a lot of people who are scared when they're being questioned. Now he's saying he was tricked. The police even in the United States , let's not call it trickery, but engage in tactics a lot to try to get someone to tell the truth . Now, Joran van der Sloot is saying, `I wasn't telling the truth, and as a result you shouldn't trust what I said there.' But it's always very hard to go back and retract a confession once you've said it. You've got to prove more than just that `I was scared.'

    VIEIRA: So it's -- the onus is on him, not on the police at this point.

    Mr. ABRAMS: Well, absolutely. Once he's made that statement, he's going to have to demonstrate to a court that that statement is invalid, in effect, either because he didn't have proper representation or because he's coerced, etc.

    VIEIRA: Well, let's talk about the representation...

    Mr. ABRAMS: Yeah.

    VIEIRA: ...because his lawyer claims that the defense lawyer who was in the room with him when he made that confession was appointed by the state...

    Mr. ABRAMS: True.

    VIEIRA: ...and that's problematic. Does he have a good point there?

    Mr. ABRAMS: It's an argument to make. It's probably not going to win the day. I mean, for example, here we have public defenders who are paid for by the government. They're a separate department, etc. But in this case they're saying that this lawyer was effectively, quote, "ineffective" in being able to represent Joran van der Sloot . Always a tough argument to make anywhere you're making it.

    VIEIRA: So what are the circumstances where this could be thrown out?

    Mr. ABRAMS: Well, look, if he was truly coerced, right, if he was threatened. If they said to him, `Unless you sign this we're going to harm you,' or `If you don't sign this then' blank. Well, then it's really an unreliable statement. If this lawyer was totally ineffective, if the system had been corrupted, in effect, then it's possible you get it thrown out. But a very tough argument for van der Sloot to make.

updated 6/22/2010 9:20:28 AM ET 2010-06-22T13:20:28

Murder defendant Joran van der Sloot refused to speak to the Peruvian judge handling his case Monday, while a Dutch newspaper reported that he has retracted his confession.

Superior Court Judge Carlos Morales visited the 22-year-old Dutchman at the maximum-security prison in eastern Lima where Van der Sloot has been held since being charged with first-degree murder in the May 30 killing of a young woman he met playing poker in Peru's capital.

But Van der Sloot would not talk, citing his lawyer's petition to declare his confession void in the death of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, the court said in a statement.

Van der Sloot, who is also the prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance in Aruba of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway, was quoted by the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf on Monday as saying he signed a confession only because he was intimidated by police .

In the interview, Van der Sloot also seemed to boast about marriage proposals he said he was receiving through his Peruvian solicitor. "One of (the women) even wants my baby," he told the newspaper.

'Blind panic'
He said they promised him he would be transferred to the Netherlands if he confessed.

"I was very scared and confused during the interrogations and wanted to get away," the paper quoted him as saying. "In my blind panic, I signed everything, but didn't even know what it said."

Van der Sloot said he dreaded the thought of being stuck in prison in Lima long-term.

"I don't really want to think about that possibility at the moment," he told the newspaper.

In addition to possible involvement in Holloway's disappearance, for which Van der Sloot has not been charged, he is wanted by the FBI on suspicion of attempting to extort money from the Holloway family.

Peruvian President Alan Garcia has said Van der Sloot will have to be tried in Flores' death before any extradition request can be considered.

If convicted of killing Flores, Van der Sloot faces from 15 to 35 years in prison in Peru.

Prosecutors allege Van der Sloot killed Flores in his hotel room, where her body was found, with "ferocity and great cruelty." According to a transcript of the confession, he elbowed the young woman in the nose, strangled her with both hands, threw her to the floor, took off his bloodied shirt and asphyxiated her.

According to the report in De Telegraaf, he now says that is not true.

"I was tricked," the paper quoted Van der Sloot as saying of Flores' killing. "I'll explain later how it all happened."

A self-avowed compulsive liar, Van der Sloot has several times made and retracted admissions of involvement in Holloway's disappearance.

Colombian hit man
He is being held in a segregated block of Castro Castro prison, having asked to be separated from the main prison population out of fear for his life.

Video: I won't visit him For now he has his own 6½-by-11½-foot cell, which is adjacent to that of a reputed Colombian hit man, with whom he shares a television set.

Van der Sloot told De Telegraaf that rats crawl into his cell through the toilet hole at night.

His mother, Anita van der Sloot, said in an interview published by the same newspaper over the weekend that her son suffers from mental problems.

She said she doesn't believe he killed Holloway. But she said if it turns out he killed Flores, "he'll have to pay the price," and she doesn't plan to visit him in jail.

Joran told the newspaper he understood why his mother would not go visit him in jail.

"I understand that, I have caused too much pain to her and other people. If only I'd listened to her," he is quoted as saying.

Altez, the defense lawyer, told The Associated Press on Monday that relatives of Van der Sloot would arrive in Lima next week but did not specify whether his mother would be among them.

Holloway's father, Dave Holloway, has called on Van der Sloot to reveal anything he knows about the location of Natalee Holloway's body, which has never been found. Van der Sloot has said he will only talk about the matter with Aruban authorities.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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