France confirms it will extradite Panama's Noriega

3rd August 2011, Comments 0 comments

France confirmed Wednesday that it has issued an extradition order to send Panamanian ex-strongman Manuel Noriega -- currently serving a French jail term for laundering drug money -- back home.

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

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon signed the extradition order early last month and Noriega was notified of it last Friday, Fillon's office said, confirming a statement by the Panamanian ex-leader's lawyer.

Noriega has one month to appeal the decision, but his lawyer said he does not plan to do so.

A legal hearing has been set for September 8 to finalise the execution of the extradition order, Noriega's laywer said.

Noriega was sentenced by a Paris court in July last year to seven years in jail for laundering the equivalent of 2.3 million euros (then $2.8 million) from the 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.

© 2011 AFP

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