Panama’s former military dictator Manuel Noriega has been extradited from France to his homeland to serve a term of 20 years for the crimes committed during his notorious 1983-89 regime. Noriega has been behind the bars in United States and France for the last two decades for the murder of his opponents during his rule. General Manuel Noriega was never the President of Panama however he was the Panama’s de facto leader from 1983 to 1989, when the commission of the brutal murders happened.
The extradition of the former dictator was approved by a French court on a request from Panama to send him back to the homeland to undergo imprisonment over his in absentia convictions for murder, corruption and embezzlement.
Although Noriega had the right to appeal, according to his lawyers he chose not to since he himself wanted to return to Panama.
Noriega, who is now 77, was deposed in a US attack of Panama in 1989 and has spent the last two decades behind bars, first in Florida and then in France subsequent to his conviction for drug trafficking and money laundering during the time of his rule.
No political impact is expected by the homecoming of the ex-dictator. As the de facto leader of Panama he was detested by the people and his few remaining supporters have been keeping a low profile ever since he was ousted from power. Even his bitter adversaries consider him as part of a distant, shadowy history of the country which during the recent times has enjoyed economic growth.
Much of the focus on Noriega will be on whether he will be able to shed any light on the dictatorship’s mysteries, including about 100 unanswered killings or disappearances in the period of the dictatorship regime from 1968 to 1989.
Report by Radhalakshmi R