Manuel Noriega extradited: France grants Panama's request to send home former dictator


Manuel Noriega was arrested by invading US troops in January 1990, accused of turning Panama into a drug-trafficking hub.


Stephen Ferry

A French court has granted a request to return former dictator Manuel Noriega to his native Panama, where he is wanted for crimes committed during six years of military rule between 1983 and 1989.

Noriega, 77, is currently in jail in France for money laundering.

French Prime Minister François Fillon will have to sign a decree authorizing the transfer, which is expected to take place before the end of the year, the Associated Press reported, possibly even within days.

Noriega has already been convicted in absentia by Panamanian courts of embezzlement, corruption and murder. He received three 20-year sentences for killing three of his opponents between 1970 and 1989, Agence France Presse said.

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His countrymen feared the elderly Noriega might die in France and wanted him returned to face justice at home, said the AP.

Noriega will be put in jail when he gets back to Panama, President Ricardo Martinelli promised last week, though as a prisoner in his 70s he may be legally entitled to house arrest, the BBC said.

The former dictator has not seen his home country in more than two decades, having been arrested by invading US troops in 1990 and imprisoned in Miami on drug-trafficking charges.

He was extradited from the US to France in 2010, where he was sentenced to seven years in jail for laundering drugs money through a French bank to buy property in Paris.

The US, which also had to give its consent for Noriega to return home, approved Panama's request last week.

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