France gives Noriega seven years

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega was sentenced to seven years in prison by a Paris court for using banks in the European country to launder money stemming from the Medellin cartel in the late 1980s.

Noriega ruled Panama from 1982 to 1989, and worked for decades with the CIA and later with Pablo Escobar´s Medellin cartel, receiving kickbacks for allowing Colombian cocaine to pass through his country.

Noriega was captured in a US invasion on Dec. 20, 1989 and taken to the United States, where he was convicted of drug-trafficking, racketeering and other crimes. He was in prison for 20 years, though he was originally sentenced to 40 years in jail, which was reduced for good behavior.

Panama´s government has long pushed for Noriega´s extradition, but the United States agreed to extradite him for a retrial in France, where he had been tried and convicted in absentia 11 years ago.

Jacques Leberquier, one of Noriega attorneys, said that the Paris court´s sentence was “extremely severe” and that it was politically motivated and influenced by the United States.

The court also ordered the confiscation of 2.3 million euros of funds stemming from the Medellin cartel and ordered Noriega to pay a 1 million-euro fine to the state of Panama.

Panama wants Noriega to return to face charges for the murder of dissident Hugo Spadafora en 1989.

But few Panamanians want him to return. According to a poll by firm Unimer in mid-June for La Prensa daily, almost 60 percent of Panamanians are against his return.

 

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