• France's news in English

French court sets date for Noriega ruling

AFP · 9 Sep 2011, 11:02

Published: 09 Sep 2011 11:02 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A French court will decide on September 23rd whether or not to release former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega so he can be extradited home to face imprisonment there, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Noriega, who was overthrown by a US invasion in 1989, is serving a sentence in France after being convicted of money-laundering there.  

Having served five of his seven years he is eligible for parole and has asked to be released, but Prime Minister Francois Fillon has ordered that he be extradited to Panama once his sentence is over.  

If and when the pock-marked 77-year-old former general, nicknamed "Pineapple Face", does arrive back in Panama, he is expected to have to begin serving the lengthy sentences he received in absentia there.  

He has three convictions for gruesome human rights violations, including the death of a military commander, dating to his military rule from 1983 to 1989. Each conviction carries a 20-year prison sentence.  

However, the process of getting Noriega to Panama has been complicated by the Panamanian government's sending French authorities a second extradition request, which must now also be ruled on.  

Noriega's lawyer in Panama, Julio Berrios, has said that his country committed a "grave error" by sending a new extradition request.  

"This is a mistake by the foreign ministry, because it is delaying and hindering the extradition process," Berrios said.  

Panamanian Foreign Minister Roberto Henriquez said the government had acted "correctly."  

"Everything that happens in France falls under the jurisdiction of the French courts, and Panama cannot intervene," he told reporters.  

The one-time strongman was a key asset for the US Central Intelligence Agency but fell out with Washington when he allegedly turned his strategically important country into a drugs hub.  

He was sentenced by a Paris court in July last year to seven years in jail for laundering the equivalent of €2.3 million (then $2.8 million) from Colombia's Medellin drug cartel through French banks.  

The drug money transited through the now-defunct Bank of Credit and Commerce International in the late 1980s and was used by Noriega's wife and a shell company to buy three luxury  apartments in Paris.  

Story continues below…

Noriega had served 20 years in a US jail in Miami for drug trafficking and money laundering before being extradited to France.  

Panama has said the United States has given its approval for Noriega to be extradited from France. US consent is required under existing treaties since he had not yet served his full jail term in the United States.  

Noriega rose to power in Panama as a military intelligence chief close to General Omar Torrijos, a left-leaning military strongman and father of the future president.  

After Torrijos' death in a mysterious 1981 plane crash, Noriega consolidated power, ultimately becoming the head of the military and the country's most feared man.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

2011-09-12 01:25:54 by willowsdad
Too bad George H.W. Bush, a much greater criminal, will go untried.
Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available