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French court set to rule in Noriega money laundering trial

Video by Pierrick Leurent , Shirli SITBON

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-07-07

A French court is set rule Wednesday in the trial of 76-year-old former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, who has been charged with laundering some €2.3 million in drug money through French banks during the 1980s.

A Paris court is set to rule Wednesday in the trial of former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, who has been charged with laundering about €2.3 million in drug money through French banks during the 1980s.

The 76-year-old general has denied taking payments from Colombian drug lords, dismissing the accusations that he laundered drug money in France as part of a scheme concocted by the United States.

The ex-leader was extradited to France on April 26 to answer charges of laundering the equivalent of €2.3 million ($2.8 million) from the Medellin cartel through French banks in the late 1980s.

A French court in 1999 sentenced Noriega in absentia to 10 years in prison and a fine of some €13.5 million, but for years he fought extradition from his prison cell in Miami.

French prosecutors say that drug money was used by Noriega's wife and a shell company to buy three luxury apartments in Paris.

Noriega's lawyers said Wednesday that there is nothing to prove that the money spent in France came from drug trafficking.

French prosecutors have called for the maximum 10-year jail sentence for the former Panamanian dictator.

Prosecutor Michel Maes has also demanded that all of Noriega's money in French accounts be seized.

Date created : 2010-07-06

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