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Man accused of extortion in a US courtroom has pleaded not guilty

Joran van der Sloot, the person accused of extorting the family of an American student who vanished in 2005, entered a not-guilty plea to the allegations.

One of the last people spotted with Natalee Holloway, an American high school graduate who vanished while travelling to Aruba more than 18 years ago, was the Dutch national.

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In connection with a conspiracy to steal money from Holloway’s devastated family, Van der Sloot, 35, was charged with wire fraud and extortion at the federal courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama.

The brief hearing only lasted about three minutes. Van der Sloot was emotionless, and only responded ‘yes, sir’ when the judge asked if he understood the charges against him.

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Five years after her disappearance, van der Sloot contacted Holloway’s family and offered to lead them to her body in exchange for $250,000.

An investigator working with the family and the FBI paid van der Sloot an upfront fee of $25,000, and the Dutch citizen revealed that Holloway was buried in the foundation of a house that was under construction at the time of her death.

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He also said that she died after falling and hitting her head on a rock.

However, Holloway’s body was never found in the house’s foundation. Van der Sloot later admitted to fabricating parts of the story.

Van der Sloot was extradited from Peru yesterday, where he is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence for the murder of another woman, Stephany Flores, exactly five year’s after Holloway’s disappearance.

On Thursday, van der Sloot transported from a maximum-security prison in the Andes Mountains to a detention center in Lima.

There he was handed off to FBI agents, who flew with him to Birmingham, Alabama.

Holloway’s parents, Dave and Beth Holloway, were both present for the arraignment. Both declined to take questions from reporters.

‘For 18 years, I have lived with the unbearable pain of Natalee’s loss,’ Beth Holloway said in a statement on Thursday. ‘Each day has been filled with unanswered questions and a longing for justice that has eluded us at every turn. But today, I am hopeful that some small semblance of justice may finally be realized.’

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