Claim of Midnight Trip Delays Noriega Extradition
Posted Sep 6, 2007 6:44 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A federal judge has delayed the extradition of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega to France following a defense claim that the government planned to sneak him out of the country to avoid further litigation.
Noriega has served a U.S. sentence for narcotics trafficking and was awaiting extradition to France for trial on money laundering charges. Senior U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler issued a stay of extradition yesterday, the Daily Business Review reports.
The Miami judge asked the defense to provide evidence backing up its claim that France does not intend to follow the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of the former strongman.
Noriega attorney Frank Rubino of Miami told the Daily Business Review that “sources” told him the government planned to sneak Noriega out of the country at midnight tonight, three days ahead of the scheduled extradition. "Talk about the government trying to avoid due process," he said, echoing a claim he made in an emergency motion.
"No doubt the United States has determined that the best means of ending this controversy is to whisk the general away under the cover of darkness," the motion said.