French court rules that Noriega can be extradited to Panama
REPORTING FROM PARIS -- After 21 years in American and French prisons, the former Panamanian dictator Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega could be back home for Christmas -- only to face more time behind bars.
Noriega was sentenced to seven years in jail by a French court last year for laundering Colombian drug money. He had previously spent two decades in prison in the U.S.
After the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989, Noriega was arrested by U.S. troops and later charged with drug trafficking. During the invasion, Noriega had sought refuge in the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Panama City. American soldiers played deafening pop and heavy-metal music day and night outside the building to flush him out.
After completing his sentence in the U.S., he was kept in prison while his lawyers contested his extradition to France.
He will return to Panama to face more time in jail. In 1995, he was sentenced to 20 years in absentia for killing political opponents in the 1980s.
-- Kim Willsher
Photo: Former strongman Manuel Antonio Noriega, shown here in Panama when he still ruled the Latin American country before his ouster in 1989. A French court ruled Wednesday that Noriega can be extradited to his homeland to face trial. Credit: Angel Murillo / AFP / Getty Images