Noriega Will See France, Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeal

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on February 02, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Manuel Antonio Noriega, erstwhile former dictator of Panama, will soon be heading for the Bastille. More precisely, he will soon be entering French custody. Last Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the former strong man opposing his extradition to France.

As the New York Times wrote, Noriega was deposed upon the invasion of Panama by U.S. forces in 1989 and convicted of drug offences by a federal court in 1992. He was then declared to be a prisoner of war.

Later convicted of money laundering in absentia by a French court, he has been fighting his extradition to that country. Noriega claims that sending him to France would violate the Geneva Convention concerning the treatment of prisoners of war. The lower court in Atlanta ruled against him, and he had appealed to the Supreme Court.

According to the Times, the government in arguing against the hearing of the case by the High Court, posited that to hear the claim would be of "limited ongoing significance," since Mr. Noriega is currently the only "prisoner of war" being held by the United States.

In his dissent from the Court's decision not to hear the case, Justice Thomas wrote that since the country is currently undergoing extended conflict with Al Queada, the Supreme Court might actually provide some "much needed guidance" to the federal courts on how to handle situations with prisoners of war that might at some future time arise from this conflict. Shocking to say, he has a point.

The majority gave no reason for their refusal to hear the case.

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