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Noriega to be extradited to Panama

Panama's former dictator Manuel Noriega will be extradited to his homeland in the next few weeks, the French justice ministry has said.

France and Panama have been working out the details of the extradition, said justice ministry spokesman Bruno Badre.

A French court ruled on November 23 that Noriega can be handed over to serve time for past crimes, more than 20 years after being ousted and arrested in a US invasion.

Mr Badre said "the judicial conditions have now been filled" for extradition and "this will occur in the next few weeks".

The elderly former military strongman has been behind bars in Florida, on drug charges, and in France, for money laundering.

Panama wants Noriega returned to serve prison terms handed down after he was convicted in absentia for embezzlement, corruption and murder.

The court decision came after months of legal procedures.

Friends and foes alike feared that Noriega might die in a French prison - notably Panamanians who fought against human rights abuses during his 1983-1989 regime.

Noriega, a one-time CIA asset, turned into an embarrassment for the US after he sidled up to Colombia's Medellin drug cartel and turned to crime.

In Panama, he is accused of murdering opponents including Moises Giroldi, a military commander who led a failed rebellion two months before the US invasion, and Hugo Spadafora, whose decapitated body was found on the border with Costa Rica in 1985.


From Belfast Telegraph