Noriega leaves France for Panama following extradition

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Former dictator Manuel Noriega flew out of France on Sunday following his extradition, beginning his return to Panama more than two decades after being ousted in a US invasion.

An Iberia flight carrying the strongman took off from Paris' Orly airport around 0700 GMT and headed to Madrid, from where Noriega is due to fly out on the final leg of his return home to face more prison time.

"I am inside the plane" with Noriega, a member of the Panamanian delegation accompanying the former dictator told AFP on condition of anonymity shortly after Noriega boarded the plane.

France has not yet officially confirmed that Noriega had left.

Panama's Foreign Minister Roberto Henriquez announced Wednesday in a Twitter post that Noriega would arrive in Panama on Sunday following his extradition from France.

The 77-year-old has served more than 20 years in prisons in the United States and France for drug trafficking and money laundering and will face three separate sentences of 20 years in Panama for crimes committed under his dictatorship.

© 2011 AFP

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