August 22, 2019

Manuel Noriega being extradited back to Panama

Manuel Noriega in happier times before the CIA pulled the plug on his little kingdom.

The former dictator of Panama, Manuel Noriega looks set to return to Panama after spending 20 years in prison in the United States of America and France.

That is the good news for Manuel. The bad news is that he his set to go straight back into prison in Panama to serve sentences imposed in his absence.

Manuel Noriega is now 77 years-old. He was deposed by a US invasion in 1989 when he started doing his own thing with the drug trade instead of doing whatever he was told to do by the CIA.

Affectionately known as “Pineapple Face,” Noriega could be back in Panama within weeks.

Officials in Panama say everything was ready for Noriega to be jailed on his return, after what his defence lawyer in the country, Julio Berrios, called a “tough battle” to fight extradition.

While President Ricardo Martinelli has maintained a cautious silence over the affair, cabinet chief Roxana Mendez said: “Everything is ready.”

“We just have to paint and put in a mattress.”

Sounds really inviting. Just the kind of detail the worlds media needed to know.

In Panama, Noriega has three convictions for human rights violations, including the death of a military commander, dating to his military rule from 1983 to 1989. Each conviction carries a 20-year prison sentence.

He was sentenced by a Paris court in July last year to seven years in jail for laundering the equivalent of 2.3 million euros from Colombia’s Medellin drug cartel through French banks.

The drug money transited through the now-defunct Bank of Credit and Commerce International in the late 1980s and was used by Noriega’s wife and a shell company to buy three luxury apartments in Paris.

A French court had previously sentenced Noriega to 10 years in jail when he was tried in absentia in 1999 on the same charges, but he was given a re-trial as part of the terms for his extradition from the United States last year.

Noriega had served 20 years in a US jail in Miami – after convictions for drug trafficking and money laundering – before being extradited to France.

Panama has said that the United States has given its approval for Noriega to be extradited to Panama from France. US consent was required under existing treaties since he had not yet served his full jail term in the United States.

Poor old Manuel. He is just goingto keep getting extradited until he dies. Maybe poor is not the right word. A guy as smart as him would have had plenty of money stashed away that the authorities would not find.

Only problem is that he is not free to enjoy it. His family is though.