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A Preventable Death?

The FBI has been taking some heat for not arresting Joran van der Sloot immediately after they caught him on tape in Aruba extorting $25,000 from John Q. Kelly, Beth Holloway's lawyer, in exchange for information concerning the whereabouts of Natalee Holloway's body.

If Joran HAD been arrested on May 10, Stephany Flores would, in all likelihood, still be alive. I say "in all likelihood" only because Joran hasn't yet been tried for and convicted of her murder, though the evidence that he did kill her seems pretty solid. And although I'll grant him the legal presumption of innocence--which, by the way, is a function of English common law, not Peruvian law, and is intended only to ensure that the state proves its case beyond a reasonable doubt, again not a function of Peruvian law, which only requires a "preponderance of evidence" to prove guilt--he DID confess to killing Stephany. Yes, we all know what Joran's confessions are worth--though he does seems to have collected a tidy sum making them. This confession, however, seems to be backed up by solid evidence. Law enforcement in Peru now says that the motive for the murder was robbery, and not, as Joran had previously stated, his rage at discovering that Stephany had read documents on his laptop relating to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.

But to return to the question of whether the FBI dropped the ball. A spokesperson for the bureau has stated that agents held off arresting Joran for extortion and wire fraud because they wanted to make a case against him for the murder of Natalee Holloway. I can see why. In his videotaped conversation with John Q. Kelly, Joran said that he did, in fact cause Natalee's death by pushing her to the ground. According to Joran, Natalee was upset that he was going to leave her on the beach, and when she tried to detain him, he shoved her away and she fell and died. I should point out that Joran is six feet five inches tall and weighs well in excess of two hundred pounds. Natalee was five feet four inches tall and weighed about a hundred pounds less than Joran. Yet he claims he had to fight off her advances, so aggressively that she died. Well, that's what he apparently told Kelly. I should add that Joran led Kelly to the site where he claimed Natalee was buried and, of course, this also turned out to be pure fabrication.

So did the FBI make a bad mistake in not arresting Joran on May 10? On the basis of what I know, I don't think they did. No one could have predicted that Joran would leave Aruba a few days later, fly to South America to take part in a poker tournament in Peru, and end up killing (allegedly) another young woman. Do I think he should have been prevented from leaving Aruba by the Aruban authorities? Yes, if there was a legal way for them to do so, given that he was the subject of an FBI investigation with which Aruba fully cooperated. Is it possible that someone tipped Joran off that the FBI had the extortion/wire fraud transaction on tape, and might shortly be lowering the boom on him? Maybe. I DO know that Stephany Flores didn't have to die.
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