Panama's Noriega 'demoralised' by detention order
Panama's ex-dictator Manuel Noriega, sent to France to face money-laundering charges, was "demoralised" by a court order for him to be detained as he awaits trial, his lawyer said Wednesday.
"We sensed that he was particularly demoralised by the decision. It was a difficult moment for him," said Yves Leberquier, who added that he planned to appeal Tuesday's court order for Noriega to be kept in custody.
Leberquier was due to visit Noriega later Wednesday in La Sante prison in Paris, where the 76-year-old general will be held as he waits for his trial for laundering drug profits to begin.
The general, who ruled Panama from 1981 to 1989, was extradited to Paris Tuesday on board an Air France flight from the US city Miami.
He had been held for 21 years in Miami after being deposed in 1989 when then US president George Bush sent troops into Panama to arrest him on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.
Noriega was convicted in absentia in France in 1999 for laundering drug profits and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Under French law, defendants tried in absentia are entitled to a new trial.
Noriega's defence lawyers contest France's jurisdiction to try the case and argue that the elderly ex-leader must be allowed to return to his home country, where he has also been convicted in absentia.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed Noriega's extradition order to France on Monday, ending years of legal wrangling over his fate.
© 2010 AFP