Docs: Ex-Panama dictator Noriega fit to extradite

AP News
Posted: Dec 10, 2011 4:43 PM
Docs: Ex-Panama dictator Noriega fit to extradite

An examination by a team of doctors in France has found former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega fit enough to be extradited to his homeland, Panama's Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

French doctors and a Panamanian colleague determined Noriega "is in condition to travel," the ministry said in a press statement.

He is expected to arrive Sunday after a flight from Paris with a stopover in Madrid, a trip on which he will be accompanied by a team of Panamanian officials, including a doctor.

It will be the first time the 77-year-old former dictator has been back to the country he ruled with an iron grip before being ousted by a U.S. invasion in late 1989.

He is expected to be taken from the Panama City airport by helicopter to El Renacer prison, on the banks of the Panama Canal.

Noriega has been jailed in France for money laundering. He was extradited there in 2010 after serving 17 years in prison in the United States on a drug-trafficking conviction, and he faces two 20-year sentences in Panama for the slayings of two political opponents in the 1980s.

His critics have called on Panamanians to bang pots and honk their car horns Sunday to show their condemnation of Noriega.

But that protest and Noriega's arrival itself could be overshadowed by Panama City's annual Christmas parade.