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France to extradite Noriega to Panama: lawyer

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14:47 CEST+02:00

France is about to extradite former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega – currently serving a French jail term for laundering drug money – to face charges in his home country, his lawyer said.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon signed the extradition order early last month and Noriega does not plan to appeal the decision, lawyer Yves Leberquier said late Tuesday.

French authorities did not immediately confirm the claim and a lawyer representing the state of Panama in France said he had not been informed of the decree.

It was not immediately clear when Noriega might be sent back to his home country.

France announced in June that it planned to launch extradition proceedings to send Noriega back home to Panama to face justice.

Noriega, 77, is in a French prison serving a seven-year sentence on chargesof laundering drug money through French banks in the 1980s. A Paris court jailed him in July last year after he was extradited from the United States.

Noriega had served 20 years in a US jail in Miami before being extradited to France.

Panama has said that the United States had given its approval for Noriega to be extradited again back to Panama. Washington's consent was required under existing treaties since he had not yet served his full term.

Noriega has three convictions for human rights violations in Panama, datingto his military rule there from 1983 to 1989. Each conviction carries a 20-year prison sentence.

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