Panama requested Friday that France extradite ex-dictator Manuel Noriega, bringing hope to those who have demanded for two decades that he face justice at home for alleged tortures and killings of their relatives.
Authorities in France, where Noriega faces money-laundering charges, are reviewing the request, said Vladimir Franco, judicial affairs chief with Panama's Exterior Relations Ministry...
An extradition would provide closure, said Alberto Almanza, who led a commission created to investigate crimes committed under military dictatorships from 1968 to 1989.
"This is what is best for our country, for the soul of our country," he said. "We have to see him here in Panama, humble, incarcerated either by prison or house arrest."
I found a Miami Herald article from 2007 that reported the results of a poll that found 62% of those Panamanians interviewed wanted Noriega returned so that he could be tried there. However,
Some say the presence of Noriega followers in the current government might mean he won't pay for his crimes, the newspaper said.
The president is Martin Torrijos, son of Gen. Omar Torrijos, for whom Noriega professed great loyalty. Gen. Torrijos led Panama from 1965 to 1981, when he died in a plane crash.This last bit is odd as well given the rumors that persist about how Noriega was involved in Torrijos' plane crash. Anyway, from my non-legal perspective, Noriega should have been extradited to Panama to face charges since that is both his home and the place where his alleged crimes were the gravest.
Either the US and France are looking to avoid potential theatre with Noriega's return to Panama by sending him to Paris against Panama's wishes or the Panamanian Government is also involved in a little theater of its own. They don't want him back but are afraid to say so. They're going through the motions of asking for his extradition with really no desire to have him back.