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
A French appeals court issued an opinion Wednesday that former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega can be extradited to his home country, a court spokeswoman said.
[Updated at 8:39 a.m.] Manuel Noriega could be eligible for parole as early as next year, his lawyer told CNN.
[Posted at 8:25 a.m.] Former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega was sentenced to seven years in prison for money-laundering by a French court Wednesday.
Noriega was also fined 2.2 million euros ($2.7 million), the amount he was accused of laundering through French banks.
The former dictator looked shaken and disconsolate at the sentence, which means he will be behind bars until he is 83 years old.
[Updated at 6:27 p.m.] Read the full CNN.com story
[Updated at 5:16 p.m.] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a surrender warrant, which was the last step to make Noriega's extradition possible, State Department spokesman Charles Luoma-Overstreet told CNN.
Noriega, who has been in U.S. custody since serving a sentence here, was placed aboard an Air France flight to Paris by U.S. marshals Monday afternoon, a senior federal law enforcement officer told CNN.
[Posted at 5:09 p.m.] Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was cleared by the United States for extradition to France, the State Department said Monday.