Jailed ex-strongman Noriega back in Panama Sunday: minister

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Panama's former strongman Manuel Noriega will arrive home on Sunday following his extradition from France to serve prison time in his native land, Panama's foreign minister said Wednesday.

"Noriega will arrive on Sunday in Panama on an Iberia flight at 5:30 pm," the minister, Roberto Henriquez, said in a Twitter post.

A Panamanian team including members from the foreign ministry, police and medical staff, has been in Paris since Sunday taking care of paperwork and medical checks before Noriega is sent to his home country.

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

A longtime intelligence chief who became the country's military ruler in 1983, Noriega 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.

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli last Friday said Noriega will have to serve three 20-year jail terms for the abduction of opponents: Hugo Spadafora, a doctor and former deputy health minister, in 1985; Captain Moises Giroldi in 1989; and union activist Heliodoro Portugal in 1970.

Martinelli had said Noriega would be extradited at some point between December 6 and 13, and be jailed immediately. Panama plans to jail him at its El Renacer prison.

© 2011 AFP

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