Manuel Noriega Return – Since being captured by US forces in 1989 Manuel Noriega has been a prisoner of war in the US and France, now he returns to Panama to serve a 20 year murder sentence.
Noriega’s former headquarters no longer exist as they were torn down and converted into a park with basketball courts.
Noriega was tried on eight counts of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering in April 1992. Noriega’s U.S. prison sentence ended in September 2007; pending the outcome of extradition requests by both Panama and France, for convictions in absentia for murder in 1995 and money laundering in 1999. France was granted its extradition request in April 2010. He arrived in Paris on April 27, 2010, and after a re-trial as a condition of the extradition, he was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in jail in July 2010.
Panama asked France to extradite Noriega to them so he could face trial for human rights violations there. The French government previously stated that extradition would not happen before the case in France had run its course. However, on September 23, 2011 a French court ordered a conditional release for Noriega to be extradited to Panama on October 1, 2011. He was extradited on December 11.
A physically diminished shadow of the man once known for waving a machete while delivering fiery speeches, Noriega’s return is unlikely to have a major political impact on a country that has enjoyed an economic boom in recent years.
Speaking outside of the prison complex in Gamboa, Noriega’s attorney said his client deserves fair representation.
“He (Noriega) wanted to return to the country and face in this land the charges for which he was tried in absentia,” attorney Julio Berrios told reporters.
“General Noriega is accused of having participated in three homicides. U.S. President George H.W. Bush invaded us and that cost 4,000 deaths. Has anybody said anything against Bush?” he said.