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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 September 2007, 01:53 GMT 02:53 UK
Noriega given stay of extradition
Manuel Noriega
Manuel Noriega was once a top US ally in Central America
A US judge has temporarily blocked the extradition to France of ex-Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega to allow his defence to present a new appeal.

The judge told the lawyers to present on Thursday evidence to support their claim that France would not abide by a key part of the Geneva Conventions.

Noriega is completing a 17-year term in a Florida jail on drug charges. The US also regards him as a prisoner of war.

He was sentenced to 10 years in France in absentia for money laundering.

Judge William Hoeveler ordered Noriega to stay in jail while lawyers presented their allegations.

They say France will not treat him as a prisoner of war, which the US courts have deemed him to be because he was seized when US troops invaded Panama in 1989.

"The ambassador of France to Panama has probably stated to two different reporters during interviews that the government of France will not extend the Geneva convention to General Noriega... and will treat him as a common criminal," said Frank Rubino, one of Noriega's lawyers.

His prison term in the US ends on Sunday.

He was once one of Washington's top allies in Central America.

But charges of drug-trafficking, election-rigging and human rights violations led to the US invasion.

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25 Aug 07 |  Country profiles

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