Noriega, Now Old and Weak, Testifies in France

Manuel Noriega's French money laundering trial opened today. He took the stand, and appeared feeble and weak. He's 76, and recently finished serving 17 years of a 20 year prison sentence in the U.S..

Noriega was charged in France in 1999 with illegally laundering cocaine profits. He was tried in absentia and sentenced to 10 years. This is a re-trial. He was extradited to France in April from the U.S.

Noriega, the Panamanian ruler from 1981 to 1989, has insisted that the money came from his brother's inheritance, his wife's personal fortune and payments by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The CIA considered him a valuable asset for years before he joined forces with drug traffickers and was implicated in the death of a political opponent.


According to his lawyer:

"Noriega will explain tomorrow the origin of his funds. He was partly paid by the CIA, on behalf of the American government for the actions he took in the interest of the USA. He received money from his family, inherited from his wife. And there are funds which according to the BCCI bank, were secret accounts for the interest of Panama," Metzner said.

"At no moment, did any of the witnesses heard in the USA, claim that there is a link between the drugs and the money found in France. It should be known that the witnesses were paid by the USA. They were bought, because over there, that's legal. Certain witnesses retracted and their retraction was not taken into account. So these aren't reliable witnesses. These are the people who transported 20,000 tonnes of cocaine for one person and it's that person who we will believe when he is in front of Noriega, who is the one who had him arrested and extradited to the USA. Those who witnessed are part of the people who Noriega had arrested," Noriega's lawyer added.

Noriega suffers from blood pressure problems and is paralyzed on the left side as a result of a stroke four years ago. Enough is enough. Send him home.

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    I say the (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by JamesTX on Mon Jun 28, 2010 at 10:00:14 PM EST
    era of the Bush family using our government to reach out and bully and harass world leaders who they don't like is over. Let him go. And the U.S. should pay for his retirement. If the Bush's want to hold hangings and jail political leaders of other countries, let them pay for it and figure out how to do it themselves. We need to stop letting this family use our government and its foreign policy for their personal purposes. Not in our name.

    Interesting U.S. extradites Noriega (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Mon Jun 28, 2010 at 09:22:31 PM EST
    (citizen of Panama?) to France but France will not extradite French citizen (Polanski) to U.S.  

    Why Are You Surprised? (none / 0) (#3)
    by squeaky on Mon Jun 28, 2010 at 09:47:49 PM EST
    Here is the treaty (p 368)US/France Extradition Treaty

    Here is the reason Polanski has not been extradited:

    1.There is no obligation upon the Requested State to grant the extradition of a person who is a national of the Requested State, but the executive authority of the United States shall have the power to surrender a national of the United States if, in its discretion, it deems it proper to do so. The nationality of the person sought shall be the nationality of that person at the time the offense was committed.

    Well, for one thing, he is a prisoner of war (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Mon Jun 28, 2010 at 10:02:51 PM EST
    held by U.S.

    Still Not Understanding Your Surprise (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Mon Jun 28, 2010 at 11:11:12 PM EST
    Perhaps a better analogy would be if France wanted to extradite Bush for war crimes. Do you think that the US would extradite him?

    Better analogy would be if France (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Mon Jun 28, 2010 at 11:46:29 PM EST
    wanted to extradite one of our "enemy combatants" who isn't a U.S. citizen.  

    OK (none / 0) (#9)
    by squeaky on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 12:10:56 AM EST
    He had challenged his extradition to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the highest court let stand a ruling by a federal appeals court that the U.S. government can legally send Noriega to France without violating his rights as a prisoner of war.

    The U.S. appeals court had rejected Noriega's claim that his extradition would violate his rights under the Geneva Conventions, which govern the treatment of prisoners of war.

    The U.S. government has supported France's extradition request and said the Geneva Conventions do not apply to Noriega's case.....

    Noriega's French legal team plans to argue that his alleged crimes took place when he was a head of state and he should have immunity from prosecution, said one of Noriega's two lawyers in France, Yves Leberquier.

    They will also contend that a statute of limitations meant he could no longer be prosecuted and that the statute granted to him in the United States as a prisoner of war would need to be respected in France, Leberquier told France Info radio.


    Seems to me that he should have been sent back to Panama after his 17 year sentence. Hostilities ended along time ago and the Geneva Convention states that POW's must be returned after hostilities have ended, and criminal sentence served.


    Oy (none / 0) (#10)
    by squeaky on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 12:35:30 AM EST
    After Hoeveler ruled against Noriega, the lawyers filed a renewed petition, claiming France would not grant the general the PoW status to which they say he is entitled.

    The judge rejected the petition on Friday, saying he was satisfied with US assurances that France would give Noriega the same treatment he was afforded in the United States, even though Paris does not consider him a PoW.....

    ....While Panama has called for Noriega's repatriation, it did not take legal action to block the French extradition request.

    In court documents, the lawyers suggested France may have agreed to take Noriega off the Central American country's hands "as a quid pro quo for a $300m contract to sell high-speed trains to Panama".

    al jazeera

    Well clearly he is not getting the same treatment in his dingy Paris cell. Far different from the Presidential suite he had in FL.

    And the bit about quid pro quo, wow.  Oh, and Scalia and Thomas evidentially dissented when the SC turned down his French Extradition appeal.

    From Jan 2010, SC Won't Halt Extradition

    Although Noriega is the only official prisoner of war currently in US custody, his appeal sought an examination of the constitutionality of legal provisions passed by Congress to undercut appeals on behalf of terrorism suspects at the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detention camp.

    In answering Noriega's appeal, the US solicitor general's office cited the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which the government argued precludes a person detained as a POW from invoking the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights in a lawsuit challenging the legality of the POW's detention.

    In his dissent, Justice Thomas said the high court should examine the issues raised by Noriega. He said any resulting opinion would provide much-needed guidance to the lower courts in cases involving Al Qaeda suspects.

    Issues raised in the appeal include whether the 2006 Military Commission Act, as enforced against Noriega, resulted in an unconstitutional suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. The appeal also questioned whether the protections of the Geneva Conventions can be invoked by an individual POW and whether those protections may be enforced by US judges.

    "It is incumbent upon us to provide what guidance we can on these issues now," Thomas wrote in a 15-page dissent. "Whatever conclusion we reach, our opinion will help the political branches and the courts discharge their responsibilities over detainee cases, and will spare detainees and the government years of unnecessary litigation."

    The high court rejected Noriega's appeal in a one-line order without explanation. No other justices wrote about the Noriega case....

    "The Prisoner of War Convention requires the immediate return home of prisoners of war at the end of hostilities subject to completion of any sentence imposed for crimes prosecuted by the detaining power," wrote Miami lawyer Jon May in his brief on behalf of Noriega. "Only in the case of war criminals is any exception permitted."

    Not so, countered Solicitor General Elena Kagan in her brief. "The Third Geneva Convention does not prohibit the extradition of a prisoner of war to face criminal charges in another country," she wrote. "[Noriega's] challenges to that conclusion lack merit."

    Ms. Kagan said the conventions permit a detaining country to transfer a POW to another country to face pending criminal charges once the detaining country is satisfied that the receiving country will abide by the Geneva Conventions. She said these requirements have been satisfied by means of diplomatic communications between the US and France.

    The solicitor general also cited the Military Commissions Act (MCA) as barring prisoners from invoking the Geneva Accords as a source of rights.

    Congress intended that the Geneva Conventions not be judicially enforceable in any court in the US, she said.

    Noriega's lawyers argued that the rights of "hundreds" of US prisoners were at risk. The government's interpretation of the MCA renders the statute unconstitutional, Mr. May said.



    AnyWay (none / 0) (#11)
    by squeaky on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 01:18:50 AM EST
    All covered by TL.... guess I missed it...

    Jabberwocky "Justice" (none / 0) (#6)
    by seabos84 on Mon Jun 28, 2010 at 10:47:52 PM EST
    what a sham. all the despicable pigs the united stated government has supported, and they put this 1 in jail - yeah, whatever.

    I'd prefer they handed him a couple pallets of $100s, a couple plane loads of small arms, and a private army. Let's be consistent - OR

    put 'em all in jail.


    Well, Carter didn't support the (none / 0) (#14)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 09:54:32 AM EST
    Shah of Iran.

    And that has worked out really well, eh?


    Amazing how... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 07:53:37 AM EST
    the CIA skates on their crimes every time.  I swear this "equality under the law" stuff is the longest practical joke running.

    Noriega was equivalent to a guy slinging dime bags compared to the CIA "kingpins".

    I've always wondered if Noriega (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 08:55:19 AM EST
    is the only person we've subjected to torture by means of loud rock music.  Whadda ya think?

    I think that is standard procedure... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 10:02:57 AM EST
    for our torturers...Metallica is a popular choice at ear-splitting volume.

    Man, I'd give up anybody under that (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by oculus on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 10:28:46 AM EST
    kind of pressure.