UPDATE: Former Panamian dictator and general testified on his behalf in Spanish for 5-hours today claiming he had proof of his innocence. He denied he laundered $2.3M in drug profits and used French banks to do so or that he personally profited from drug money but rather was using personal funds for those French real esate transactions. When pressed for specifics he was unable to provide them and at times appeared confused and distracted. The trial is expected to conclude tomorrow.
Manual Noriega’s trial for money laundering began this morning in Paris, France ten years after being convicted in absentia for the same charges. The French government alleges that the one time dictator of Panama, laundered drug cartel money through French banks in the ‘80s and that the money bought Noriega and his family luxury homes in the country.
Since 1999, the French government held an arrest warrant for Noriega but held off on the extradition, while he languished in a U.S. Florida prison for 17 years. The U.S government agreed to extradite him to France in April, 2010, after he finished his sentence for drug trafficking and money laundering in this country.
The U.S. invaded Panama in 1989 in order to capture the one time general and guerrilla fighter and were condemned by the United Nations for violation of international law. Noriega still faces human rights abuse charges in Panama should he be set free by the French government.