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Chile begins to expel Dutch murder suspect to Peru

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile on Friday was expelling to Peru a Dutch man who is the prime suspect in the murder of a young woman in Lima and is also linked to the 2005 disappearance of an American student in Aruba.

Chile flew Joran Van der Sloot to its far north, police said, and will force him to walk across the border into Peru, where he is wanted in the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, whose body was found in Lima on Wednesday.

He was stopped by police in central Chile on Thursday after traveling hundreds of miles south from the border to a beach resort city near the capital Santiago.

Chilean police said Van der Sloot has denied he was involved in the murder of Flores while on a poker-playing trip to Lima. Van der Sloot, in his early 20s, travels the world to participate in poker tournaments, local media reported.

The murder probe has brought renewed attention to the case of Natalee Holloway, an 18-year-old American from Alabama who disappeared during a high school graduation trip in the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba.

Van der Sloot was arrested twice in the Holloway case, which was much publicized in the United States, but he was never charged due to insufficient evidence.

Alabama authorities said an arrest warrant for Van der Sloot was issued on Thursday on extortion charges linked to Holloway's disappearance.

Aruba investigators have said they are paying close attention to the Peru murder case for new clues in their ongoing investigation.

Peruvian police said Flores was killed on May 30 -- the same date that Holloway disappeared in 2005.

(Reporting by Alonso Soto and Antonio de la Jara; editing by Simon Gardner and Mohammad Zargham)