Fate of Manuel Noriega goes to U.S. appeals court Wednesday

The fate of a jailed Panamanian general whose country was invaded by the United States almost two decades ago will be argued in a federal appeals court in downtown Miami on Wednesday.

Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, a convicted narcotrafficker incarcerated in a prison outside Miami, hopes to return to his native country rather than face extradition to France on money-laundering charges.

Noriega, 73, asserts his status as a prisoner of war entitles him to be repatriated to Panama under the Geneva Conventions. But three federal judges — including the one who granted him POW status after his original trial in Miami — have ruled the United States can extradite him to France.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals, after hearing arguments on Wednesday, will later decide whether Noriega's POW status prohibits his extradition to France under the international treaty.

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