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US Seeks to Extradite Ex-Panamanian Dictator to France

U.S. prosecutors have moved to have former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega extradited to France after he is released from a U.S. prison in September.

Prosecutors filed extradition papers on Tuesday on behalf of the French government. Noriega was convicted in France in absentia in 1999 on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. He faces a 10-year prison sentence and a multi-million dollar fine.

Noriega's attorney, Frank Rubino, says his client is protected under the Geneva Convention because a judge has declared him a prisoner of war. Under the Convention, a prisoner of war who has served his sentence must be sent back to his native country.

Noriega has been convicted in absentia in Panama for the brutal 1985 murder of dissident leader Hugo Spadafora. Panamanian authorities say the former dictator will be imprisoned if he returns home.

U.S. forces captured Noriega after invading his country in 1989. He was convicted in 1992 on drug trafficking, racketeering and conspiracy charges. His scheduled release follows the conclusion most of his 30-year prison sentence.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.