Noriega to face extradition hearing

Former military leader cannot return to Panama amid French extradition appeal.

    Noriega is wanted by France on charges
    of money laundering [AP]

    Hoeveler said he granted Noriega prisoner of war status in 1992 to ensure his protection under the Geneva Conventions.
     
    Noriega's defence lawyers had argued the Geneva Conventions entitled him to repatriation after his release from prison in September.
     
    France wants Noriega to face charges of laundering more than $3m in drug proceeds through five French banks.
     
    Noriega was convicted in absentia of those charges and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, but Paris agreed to hold a new trial if Noriega is extradited from the US.
     
    He is due to appear before William Turnoff, a US magistrate, on Tuesday, when France's request is expected to proceed.
     
    Protections limited
     
    Hoeveler was instrumental in securing recognition of Noriega as a prisoner of war with entitlements to protection under the Geneva Conventions.
     

    Rubino, right, said Noriega had hoped the judge
    would have allowed his request [GALLO/GETTY]

    Noriega has also been convicted in absentia in Panama on charges of murder, human rights violations, embezzlement and corruption.
     
    The convictions include the 1985 beheading of Hugo Spadafora, a political opponent.
     
    Noriega's lawers say he wishes to return to Panama to attempt to clear his name.
     
    Recent reforms of the penal code in Panama mean that Noriega would serve the 20-year prison term awaiting him there under house arrest, because he is over 70-years-old.
     
    Frank Rubino, Noriega's head defence lawyer, said Noriega was "very disappointed" with Hoeveler's ruling.
     
    "He was hoping the judge would have done the right thing and sent him back to Panama, his home country," Rubino said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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