Manuel Noriega gets seven-year sentence in France

Former Panamanian dictator received kickbacks from drug traffickers, court says

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was sentenced to seven years in jail by a Paris court on Wednesday. The court decided there was evidence to establish that Noriega used his French bank account to hide millions of euros in kickbacks from the Medellin cocaine cartel. Noriega was extradited to France 10 weeks ago, and has already spent 20 years in a Florida prison for drug trafficking after he was deposed from his dictatorship in 1987. Although he U.S. sentence was served out in 2007, Noriega stayed in jail for 32 months trying to fight extradition to France. Despite his seven-year sentence, Noriega is likely to be eligible for parole within a year. However, Panama is seeking his extradition from France on more serious crimes committed during his 1983-1989 regime, including the murder of a political opponent. There is confusion about Noriega’s true date of birth, but he told the court he is 76 and in poor health, and will not fight extradition back to Panama. Many Panamanians share Noriega’s sentiment of wanting to return to the country, and want to prosecute him for human rights abuses perpetrated during his rule. Noriega had long been considered an important CIA asset before he joined forces with drug traffickers and was implicated in the death of a political opponent. His legal team is deciding whether to appeal, and have 10 days to do so.

New York Times