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Hell on Earth

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Prisoner No. 326390 looks dazed and glum as guards lead him into his new home-a grimy 10-ft. by 8-ft. room with a filthy sink, a hole in the floor instead of a toilet, an old mattress and nothing else. In the days ahead he will pick at his prison food-oats and bread, or chicken and rice-but for the most part he barely eats. Police say he is depressed, anxious and afraid he will be killed.

This is the stark new reality for Joran van der Sloot, who was charged with murder and robbery in the brutal death of college student Stephany Flores Ramirez, 21. On June 11 van der Sloot, 22, was sent to Peru’s most notorious prison, Miguel Castro Castro, to await trial. Packed with 2,300 mostly violent criminals, the prison is “extremely harsh,” according to a U.S. State Department report, with poor sanitation and wretched food. It is so inhospitable that van der Sloot may be trying to cut a deal: He offered in his confession to reveal where in Aruba officials can find the body of Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teen he is suspected of killing, hoping, perhaps, to be allowed to serve his prison time on the island. That offer is “him just blowing smoke,” says Natalee’s brother Matt Holloway, 21, a college senior speaking exclusively to PEOPLE. “He’s just trying to say as many things as he can to ease his life.”

For now, he’s in protective custody with only one other inmate nearby: Colombian hit man Alejandro Trujillo Ospina. Van der Sloot will be allowed to lift weights (soda bottles filled with sand), watch TV and perhaps take a pottery workshop. And if he’s convicted in Flores’ murder, that could be his life for the next 35 years. “He’s not going to get away from this one like he did with my sister,” claims Matt. “He’s finally going to be seeing prison bars for a while.”

Inmates at Miguel Castro Castro wear their own clothes, not uniforms; those with money can pay visitors to bring in food. Built for 2,000 inmates, the prison holds 2,300 and is known to be dangerous.