By Joe Sutton, CNN
Joran van der Sloot, one of the last people to see American Natalee Holloway alive in Aruba in 2005 before she disappeared, will be extradited to the US, according to a family statement released Wednesday which was obtained by CNN.
“In May 2005 my 18-year-old daughter Natalee Holloway left Birmingham for Aruba to attend her high school graduation trip and was never seen again,” mother Beth Holloway said in the statement.
Holloway was last seen in the early hours of May 30, 2005, leaving a nightclub in Aruba with van der Sloot and two other men. No one was charged in her disappearance, CNN previously reported, and her body has never been found.
In 2012, an Alabama judge signed an order declaring Holloway legally dead.
“I was blessed to have had Natalee in my life for 18 years, and as of this month, I have been without her for exactly 18 years,” the statement said. “She would be 36 years old now. It has been a very long and painful journey, but the persistence of many is going to pay off. Together, we are finally getting justice for Natalee.”
Van der Sloot, a Dutch national, has been indicted in the US on federal charges of extortion and wire fraud. He was convicted in 2012 in Peru of murdering Stephany Flores, 21, in his Lima hotel room, and was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Peru — which has an extradition treaty with the US — had previously agreed to extradite van der Sloot but only after he finished serving the murder sentence, the Peruvian news agency Andina reported, meaning after accounting for time served, US officials potentially had to wait until 2038.
Daniel Maurate Romero, Peru’s justice and human rights minister, said in a statement Wednesday the Peruvian government “decided to agree to the request for temporary surrender made by the US authorities” of van der Sloot.
In a phone conversation with CNN Wednesday night, Patriot Strategies CEO George Seymore, the firm that is representing the Holloway family, says that van der Sloot is not yet back in the US and the process is expected to begin Thursday.
Beth Holloway said in the statement, “I want to express my sincere gratitude to President Dina Boluarte, the President of Peru, the warm people of Peru, the family of Stephany Flores, the FBI in Miami, Florida and in Birmingham, Alabama, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Birmingham, the U.S. Embassy in Peru and the Peruvian Embassy in the U.S., my longtime attorney John Q. Kelly who has worked tirelessly on this case, and George Seymore and Marc Wachtenheim of Patriot Strategies.”
CNN has reached out to the US Department of Justice, the US State Department and the Alabama governor’s office for comment.
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CNN’s Hande Atay Alam, Travis Caldwell and Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.