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Noriega faces extradition from U.S. to France

The Supreme Court decided Monday not to stop the U.S. government from sending former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega to France to face money laundering charges.
Image: General Manuel Antonio Noriega speaks 20 May 1988
General Manuel Antonio Noriega seen here in May 1988 in Panama City before his capture by the U.S.Angel Murillo / AFP - Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Manuel Noriega looks set to be extradited from the U.S. to France to face money laundering charges, after the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by the former Panamanian dictator to be returned to his native country.

The Supreme Court decided Monday not to stop the U.S. government from sending Noriega to France, refusing to hear his appeal.

Noriega had wanted to be sent back to Panama after finishing his drug sentence in the United States.

However the court's majority turned away Noriega's appeal without comment. Justice Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia said they would have heard the appeal.

U.S. troops invaded Panama in late 1989 and ousted him from power. He was convicted of drug trafficking and related charges in 1992 and declared a prisoner of war by U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler.

However Federal judges have refused Noriega's claims that the Geneva Convention's treaties, regarding the repatriation of prisoners of war after the end of hostilities, mean that he should be allowed to return to Panama.

Noriega's attorneys argued that the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and lower courts were wrong in ruling that he could not use the Convention to block extradition to a third country such as France.

Noriega's drug sentence ended on Sept. 9, 2007. A few weeks before, the U.S. filed papers backing France's request that Noriega be extradited to stand trial on drug money-laundering charges there.

Noriega was convicted in absentia in France of laundering some $3 million in drug proceeds, but it was later agreed a new trial would be held if he was sent there.

Noriega remains at the same Miami prison where he served his drug sentence. U.S. officials promised not to move him until his appeals were finished.