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French court: Noriega will go back to Panama

The former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega can be extradited to his home country to serve time for crimes during his rule from 1983 to 1989, a French court ruled yesterday.

Noriega, 77, who was ousted in a US invasion, has spent more than 20 years behind bars in Florida on drug charges and in France for money laundering. Panama wants Noriega returned to serve prison terms after he was convicted in absentia for embezzlement, corruption and murder. Because of his age he may be allowed to serve out his time under house arrest.

Friends and foes alike feared that Noriega might die in a French prison, notably Panamanians who fought against human rights abuses during his autocratic regime.