Joran van der Sloot's extradition to the United States will not happen until after he serves his sentence for murder in Peru, the country's highest court has ruled. That could be as long as 28 years.
But the decision by Peru's Supreme Court is not final, as Peru's justice minister and Cabinet must also approve it, van der Sloot's lawyer told the Associated Press.
Van der Sloot, convicted of murder in Peru, faces U.S. charges in connection with the disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba. "At the end of the day, the decision on whether to extradite Joran is political," his attorney told the AP.
The political process is rooted in the extradition treaty between the United States and Peru. The treaty allows a person who's convicted of a crime in Peru to be extradited to the United States to face prosecution for a separate crime.
If convicted and sentenced in the United States, the person would be sent back to Peru to finish his sentence, then extradited again to the United States to serve time there.
But Peru's Supreme Court apparently wants Joran van der Sloot to first serve out his Peruvian prison sentence before standing trial in the United States on lesser charges related to the Holloway case.
As other Peruvian prisoners are "in the same situation," the Supreme Court felt "[t]here's no reason Joran van der Sloot should be different," van der Sloot's lawyer told the AP.
Van der Sloot is appealing his conviction in Peru; if successful, he could be extradited immediately thereafter, the AP reports. Otherwise, van der Sloot could be released for good behavior after serving about a third of his sentence, according to Reuters.
Joran van der Sloot, a Dutch national raised in Aruba, was the sole suspect -- but was never charged -- in Natalee Holloway's disappearance in 2005. U.S. prosecutors have charged van der Sloot with fraud and extortion, for allegedly accepting $25,000 from Holloway's mother to reveal the location of Holloway's body. He never followed through.