Joran van der Sloot: former Peru murderer may pursue possible libel claim

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Deceased ex-cop Joran van der Sloot’s family may be able to pursue possible libel claim against former vice-president Joe Biden after late son ‘retweeted an internet troll’

Joran van der Sloot, the former Peru court murderer accused of murdering a woman in Aruba, could be able to pursue a potential libel claim against Joe Biden after the vice-president retweeted a message made by a Twitter troll, a New York lawyer specializing in defamation claims told the Guardian.

An expert in defamation law said that some social media users have recently started the trend of posting a post containing the same verb or phrase in multiple forms without providing any context for the repetition, which critics say turns the individual person – or their statements – into a type of generic mass medium.

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“The general trend in regard to misinformation in the social media space is to use the common phrase, ‘make believe’, to convey the belief in which the alleged information is based,” said public relations expert David Steinberg, whose clients include the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

After responding to a tweet allegedly written by Joran van der Sloot about Barack Obama, which Biden retweeted the following day on 11 November, the vice-president admitted he was duped by the internet troll.

Steinberg said it is reasonable to argue that his retweet of the message constituted publication because Biden added no further information to the tweet other than “this is a troll by”.

Van der Sloot was charged with premeditated murder in his native Peru in 2010, but not extradited to stand trial in the country.

He is also blamed for the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, an American tourist who vanished while vacationing in Aruba in 2005.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Joran van der Sloot’s father against the Aruba government was dismissed by a federal judge who ruled the suit raised “matters wholly or partly foreign to the United States”.

Van der Sloot’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, said at the time that he would file an appeal of the ruling and the family had the right to bring another lawsuit.

Van der Sloot was also one of three suspects detained in the 2009 disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba, but he was freed by prosecutors after a jury found that prosecutors did not have sufficient evidence to press charges.

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