France to extradite Manuel Noriega to Panama

Manuel Antonio Noriega (1984)
Image caption Noriega has been convicted in absentia in Panama

France has confirmed it will extradite Manuel Noriega to Panama, where he is wanted over human rights violations during his rule in the 1980s.

The former Panamanian military leader is currently serving a prison sentence in France for money laundering.

Prior to that, he spent 20 years in prison in the US after being convicted there of drug-trafficking charges.

It is expected that Noriega will be sent next month to Panama, where courts have already convicted him in absentia.

He was found guilty of three charges of human rights violations. Each conviction carried a 20-year prison sentence.

The 77 year old will have a month to launch an appeal to prevent his extradition. However, his lawyer has said he wants to return to Panama.

Once a US ally, Noriega was deposed by invading American troops in 1989, amid allegations he had turned Panama into a drug-trafficking hub.

He was extradited from the US to France last year, having been sentenced in absentia there in 1999 to seven years in jail.

That charge related to the laundering of money from Colombian drug gangs through a French bank, in order to buy property in Paris.