France to extradite Noriega 'soon': ministry

5th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

France will "soon" extradite former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega to his homeland, the justice ministry said Monday, declining to put a precise date on his departure for security reasons.

"One doesn't usually communicate precise dates of extradition for obvious security reasons," Justice Ministry spokesman Bruno Badre said.

"But I can confirm that it will happen soon."

A Panamanian diplomatic source said that Panamanian officials were already in France to take charge of Noriega but also declined to give a date for his departure.

After more than 22 years in US and French prisons, Noriega is to be sent back to Panama following a French appeals court ruling he could be extradited to serve time for crimes committed under his iron-fisted rule of the 1980s.

The former US ally, now 77, ruled Panama from 1983 until his overthrow in a US invasion in 1989.

He spent 21 years in a Miami prison on drug charges after his overthrow, and then was extradited to France, where he was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of laundering money for the Medellin drug cartel.

Panama wants him extradited from France to serve three 20-year sentences for the murders of three opponents.

© 2011 AFP

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