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Manuel Noriega flown home to Panama

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-12-11

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega left France on Sunday to serve out two 20-year sentences in his homeland after spending more than 20 years in French and U.S. jails for money laundering and drug trafficking.

AP - Former Panamanian military strongman Manuel Noriega left France Sunday for further punishment in his homeland after more than 20 years in U.S. and French jails for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The 77-year-old departed on Sunday morning under escort from Orly airport, south of Paris, leaving behind his cell in the French capital’s walled La Sante Prison. Panamanian officials say he will be sent straight to another jail cell when he lands.

A four-car convoy and motorcycles took Noriega directly to the Iberia flight to Panama City via Madrid, bypassing the walkway used by other passengers on the commercial flight. The plane took off at 8:08 a.m.

It will be the first time the 77-year-old former dictator has been back to the country he ruled with an iron grip before being ousted by a U.S. invasion in late 1989.

He is expected to be taken from the Panama City airport by helicopter to El Renacer prison, on the banks of the Panama Canal.

Noriega has been jailed in France for money laundering. He was extradited there in 2010 after serving 17 years in prison in the United States on a drug-trafficking conviction, and he faces two 20-year sentences in Panama for the slayings of two political opponents in the 1980s.

His critics have called on Panamanians to bang pots and honk their car horns Sunday to show their condemnation of Noriega.But that protest and Noriega’s arrival itself could be overshadowed by Panama City’s annual Christmas parade.

Date created : 2011-12-11

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