French court hands Noriega 7-year prison term

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - 20:38

Paris: A Paris court on Wednesday convicted former
Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega of laundering drug money in
France in the 1980s and ordered him to spend seven years
behind bars, a sentence that comes on top of his two decades
already spent in a US prison.

The three-judge panel also ordered the seizure of USD
2.89 million that has long been frozen in Noriega`s accounts.
Noriega, who gives his age as 76, was deposed after a
1989 US invasion and went on to serve 20 years in a Florida
prison for drug trafficking. He was extradited to France in
April to stand trial on accusations related to his assets
here.

The prosecution argued that millions of dollars that
passed through Noriega`s French accounts during the late 1980s
were kickbacks from the powerful Medellin cocaine cartel.

His lawyers had pressed for an acquittal, saying the
trial was part of a political plot against him and arguing
that Noriega`s age and poor health mean he would certainly die
behind bars if convicted.

Noriega has blood pressure problems and is paralyzed on
the left side following a stroke, his lawyers say. There has
long been confusion about his true date of birth.

In court, Noriega portrayed himself as a foe of drug
traffickers and said the money in his French accounts came
from personal and family businesses. He also said some of it
was payments from the CIA.
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.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - 20:38

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