Ex-Panamanian Dictator Noriega Convicted of Money Laundering

Former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega has been sentenced to seven years in prison by a French court for money laundering, although the 76-year-old ex-dictator might be eligible for parole after a year due to his failing health.

The court said in its decision that Noriega, who ruled Panama for more than six years in the 1980s, received millions of euros from drug traffickers through his French bank accounts. The French prison sentence is the second stop for Noriega, who spent 17 years in a US federal prison as a prisoner of war. He was released in 2007 but was held under US custody while awaiting resolution of his extradition case to France. Noriega was extradited to France in April this year.

If Noriega receives a pardon from the French government, he may come full circle by being extradited back to Panama, where he is facing charges for human rights abuses committed during his rule from 1983 to 1989. Noriega, a former CIA asset before he colluded with drug traffickers, was ousted when the US invaded Panama in December of 1989.