French court refuses to release Noriega
Wednesday, May 12 2010 @ 04:36 pm EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
Noriega had opened the hearing by pointing a finger to the sky and declaring: "May God Almighty give you the wisdom to judge this case" before turning to the prosecutor and accusing him of being a U.S. agent. The former military leader is accused of laundering 2.3 million euros ($3.1 million Cdn) in drug money from the Medellin cartel of Colombian cocaine traffickers through French banks and the purchase of luxury apartments in Paris. Noriega has denied the charges and maintains the money was from his brother's inheritance, his wife and from CIA payments he received while in power.
His lawyers last week appealed to the Red Cross to intervene, arguing that he was being held in a decrepit jail and unfairly denied prisoner of war status. Noriega, who suffers from partial paralysis and high blood pressure, has been jailed at the Paris La Sante prison, which has been criticized for its harsh conditions. The lawyers contend that the former leader should be treated as a prisoner of war as he was a general who was captured by U.S. forces during an invasion of his country in 1989.