France denies Noriega war prisoner status

Last Updated: Friday, April 30, 2010 - 12:18

Paris: France on Thursday rejected a demand by Panama`s former dictator Manuel Noriega to be treated as a prisoner of war while he awaits trial in Paris on charges of laundering drug money.

"Mr Noriega does not have prisoner of war status. He is charged on our territory with breaches of common law that were not committed in the course of his military service," Justice Ministry spokesman Guillaume Didier said.

One of Noriega`s lawyers, Antonin Levy, has argued that the 76-year-old general should be treated as a prisoner of war as he was a general who was captured by US forces during an invasion of his country.

"As a prisoner of war, he has the right to a certain freedom of movement within his place of detention, which does not correspond to the French penitentiary system," Levy said after visiting Noriega at La Sante prison in Paris.

Didier insisted however that "the general conditions of detention in France respect the various imperatives set out by the Geneva Conventions (on human rights) for prisoners of war."

PTI




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