LIMA, Peru – Sitting in a Peruvian prison cell, convicted Dutch murderer Joran van der Sloot is in love and planning to marry his sweetheart in the prison where he's serving a 28-year sentence, his lawyer said Friday.
The couple is awaiting permission from penal authorities for a wedding within two weeks in Piedras Gordas prison, lawyer Maximo Altez told The Associated Press.
"He is in love, that is what motivates all men (to marry), he truthfully is in love," Altez said Friday about his client, who was convicted of the brutal 2010 murder of a young Lima woman he met in a casino.
Altez's comment followed speculation in Peruvian media that Van der Sloot wants to marry 23-year-old Leydi Figueroa Uceda to avoid possible extradition to the United States. The lawyer denied that was the case.
The 24-year-old Dutchman remains the chief suspect in the 2005 disappearance in his native Aruba of U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway.
Holloway was 18 years old when she vanished during a high school graduation trip to Aruba. She was last seen leaving a bar the morning of May 30, 2005 with Van der Sloot.
Holloway's body was never found and the ensuing searches for her would create intense media scrutiny and worldwide attention. A judge later declared Holloway dead.
Van der Sloot faces extortion and wire fraud charges in Alabama in connection with Holloway's unsolved disappearance, which occurred five years to the day before he killed 21-year-old Peruvian business student Stephany Flores after playing poker with her in a Lima casino.
U.S. prosecutors allege Van der Sloot accepted $25,000 in cash from Holloway's family in exchange for a promise to lead an attorney for the family to her body in early 2010 just before he went to Lima.
Altez said that Van der Sloot met Figueroa while she was selling goods inside the Peruvian prison. The young woman visited Van der Sloot constantly after that and several months ago he began taking the steps needed to wed.
The lawyer denied press reports that Figueroa bore Van der Sloot a son.
On Wednesday, Altez sought a sentence reduction to 20 years for Van der Sloot.
He said he should hear back from the Supreme Court in about 10 days.
"He wants to get married, change his life, make a new life," he said.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.