Panama requests extradition of Noriega from France

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Panama has formally requested that France extradite former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega so that he can face human rights violations charges, officials here said Wednesday.

Vladimir Franco, an official with Panama's foreign ministry, told AFP that "at 4 pm (Tuesday) the envelope with the request for Noriega's extradition was sent by plane" to Paris.

The move follows Noriega's extradition in April to France from the United States, after spending nearly two decades US prisons for drug-trafficking, racketeering and money laundering convictions.

Noriega, 76, has three convictions for human rights violations in Panama, each carrying a 20-year prison sentence.

The Panamanian strongman ruled the country from 1981 to 1989, when then-US president George H.W. Bush sent troops into Panama and toppled his regime.

Noriega served his time in a Miami prison until being was sent last April to France to face money-laundering charges.

He 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.

© 2010 AFP

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