Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, 76—who recently completed his US sentence for drug racketeering and money laundering—has been fighting extradition to France since early last year. Reportedly, the former Panamanian president laundered $25 million in cocaine profits through various major French banks and pruchased three lavish Paris apartments using drug money. Now, it seems like the French may finally get their chance to prosecute Noriega.
Noriega was extradited to Paris from the United States early today and faces 10 years in jail for the crimes he committed in in the European country. His lawyers argued that French courts could not try him because he is immune from prosecution as a former head of state and prisoner of war, said the BBC.
Noriega, who ruled Panama between 1981 and 1989, has spent more than 20 years in prison on drug charges. The former dictator wanted to be sent back to Panama after finishing his 17-year jail sentence in 2007, but his appeal was rejected.
Noriega's lawyer in Miami, Frank Rubino, claimed he knew nothing of the extradition until he saw it on the news. "Usually the government... does things in a more professional manner and respects common courtesy and we're shocked that they didn't," he told the BBC.
Rubino said Panama was "terrified" that Noriega would return "even though all he would do is sit on his porch and play with his grandchildren. He knows where the skeletons are buried."