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Peruvian murder trial for van der Sloot set for January

By the CNN Wire Staff
November 25, 2011 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
Joran Van der Sloot is accused of killing Stephany Flores in his Lima hotel room last year.
Joran Van der Sloot is accused of killing Stephany Flores in his Lima hotel room last year.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Superior Court of Lima announces the Dutch national's trial will start January 6
  • He will face robbery and murder charges related to Stephany Flores' death
  • A panel of judges recently ruled not to levy a charge that could carry a life sentence

(CNN) -- Joran van der Sloot will stand trial beginning January 6 on robbery and murder charges related to a 21-year-old woman's death, a Peruvian court announced Friday.

The timetable from the Superior Court of Lima came days after a panel of judges ruled against having the Dutch national face an even more stringent slate of charges, as the victim's family members had requested. Instead, he will face the original charges levied against him -- which, if he is convicted on all counts, could lead to a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Van der Sloot is accused of killing Stephany Flores in his Lima hotel room last year. Police say he took money and bank cards from her wallet and fled to Chile, where he was arrested a few days later.

He was charged in September with "qualified murder" and simple robbery, which carry sentences of 28 years and two years, respectively.

The victim's family asked a three-judge panel for a charge akin to aggravated murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The panel ruled against the family and in favor of prosecutors' original indictment.

Van der Sloot's defense attorney, Luis Jimenez Navarro, then told InSession that the judge's decision was a major victory for his client. If van der Sloot is found guilty and sentenced to the maximum penalty, under Peru's jail reduction credits, he might serve only a third of the term. As of early next month, van der Sloot will have spent 18 months in Peruvian prison.

Jimenez has previously said that his client could confess to a charge of simple homicide.

Despite the panel's decision, the Flores family has remained hopeful that van der Sloot will face more serious charges. A family attorney said that because of the way the justice system works in Peru, the charges could change once the trial begins.

Van der Sloot was once the prime suspect in the case of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway, who vanished while on a graduation trip to the Caribbean island of Aruba. He was arrested twice but never charged in connection with Holloway's disappearance, which is still unsolved.

He also faces extradition charges to the United States. In June 2010, a federal grand jury in Alabama indicted van der Sloot on charges of wire fraud and extortion after allegations surfaced that he tried to extort $250,000 from Holloway's mother. He was given a total of $25,000, and authorities believe he used that money to travel to Peru and participate in a poker tournament, where he met Flores.

InSession's Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.

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