Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega arrived Sunday evening in his home country, nearly 22 years after U.S. forces forcibly removed him from office.
The 77-year old was expected to head straight to prison to serve time for crimes committed during his rule. He will be flown to and housed in an individual cell in El Renacer, a medium-security facility in Gamboa, the government said.
Noriega arrived at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City.
"I think it has historic and symbolic significance," said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, about the former leader's return.
"It's a sense of closure for the Panamanian people. He clearly was a dictator for six years and presided over assassinations, disappearances and killing of opposition leaders. And so I think that it's something that was unfinished business and I think it's important for Panama to have a sense of closure," he said.
Noriega's extradition process began Sunday morning with a flight from Paris to Madrid. He was in Spanish police custody during a four-hour layover before leaving Madrid Sunday afternoon on a flight to Panama City, a spokesman for Spain's airport authority said.FULL STORY