13 Dec 2011

Noriega back in Panama

5:51 am on 13 December 2011

The former military leader of Panama, Manuel Noriega, is back in his home country 22 years after he was forcibly removed from power by the United States.

He was extradited from France where he was convicted on money laundering charges.

Noriega, 77, was convicted in absentia of murdering political opponents in Panama and was taken straight to prison upon his arrival.

He has already spent more than 20 years in prisons in France and the United States.

Last month, a French court approved a request from Panama to send him home.

He had the right to appeal, but his lawyers said he wanted to return to Panama.

Although he was never president, General Manuel Noriega served as Panama's de facto leader between 1983 to 1989.

Once a US ally, he was arrested by invading American troops in January 1990.