Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

United States Seeks Noriega Extradition Following Court Decision



The U.S. government has asked a Miami federal judge to grant Manuel Noriega’s extradition to France after the Supreme Court decided not to consider the former Panamanian dictator’s appeal.

Noriega is charged with laundering money through French banks.  His attorney, Jon May, will ask the Miami court for a rehearing on February 19, based on dissenting arguments from Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Noriega should not be extradited before then, May said Tuesday.

Noriega was convicted of drug racketeering and declared a prisoner of war in the United States in 1992.  He has remained in detention since his sentence ended in 2007, while his lawyers have fought the extradition to France. They claim the Geneva Conventions and Noriega’s prisoner of war status require his extradition to Panama, not to France. The Supreme Court did not rule on that contention.  Justice Thomas wrote in a dissenting opinion joined by Scalia that the Court should rule on Noriega’s argument because it would also resolve important legal questions for the detainees currently held in Guantanamo Bay.

The Panamanian government has also called for Noriega to return to his home country, where he faces a 20-year sentence for ordering the 1985 murder of dissident leader Hugo Spadafora.

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