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Noriega to be Extradited to Panama Sunday


Panama's foreign ministry says the country's former dictator Manuel Noriega will return to his native land on Sunday following the approval of his extradition last month by a French court.

The ministry announced Noriega's arrival date in a statement Wednesday. The former dictator is being sent back to Panama to serve time for embezzlement, corruption and murder.

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli has said Noriega will go to jail when he arrives in Panama. But the president has also acknowledged that Noriega, now in his late 70s and reported to suffer from health problems, could be granted house arrest by law because of his age.

Noriega told the French court that he wants to go back to Panama to prove his innocence.

The one-time U.S. ally ruled Panama from 1983 to 1989, when he was ousted by U.S. forces.

After his overthrow, he spent two decades in prison in the U.S. on drug trafficking, racketeering and money laundering charges before being extradited last year to France, where he was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to seven years in jail.

The United States also gave its approval to authorize Noriega's return to Panama, where he is accused of murdering political opponents.

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