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Last Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Noriega suffers extradition blow
Manuel Noriega
Manuel Noriega was once a top US ally in Central America
A US judge has rejected an appeal by former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega that sought to block his extradition to France.

Miami District Judge William Hoeveler dismissed defence claims that Noriega would not be treated as a prisoner of war in France as he is in the US.

Noriega's 17-year US term for drugs offences, which he is serving in a Florida jail, is due to end on Sunday.

He was convicted in absentia in France in 1999 of money laundering.

Further appeals

In his ruling, Judge Hoeveler lifted a temporary curb on extradition proceedings that he imposed earlier this week.

He also said that Noriega, 73, must remain in the US jail until he completes his term.

The ruling, however, may still be open to further appeals from Noriega's lawyers.

Noriega was sentenced to 10 years in France for laundering money through French banks to buy three luxurious apartments.

Noriega 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 into Panama and the seizure of Noriega in 1989.

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