Thursday, April 29, 2010

Noriega is "sick"

According to a lawyer representing Noriega, the former dictator of Panama is not in the best physical health. As maladjusted's readers probably already know, Noriega was extradited to France a couple days ago after serving a 17 year sentence in Miami. He now faces money laundering charges for allegedly using drug money to buy luxury apartments in Paris (Noriega's defense is, quite plausibly, that he paid for those apartments with CIA cash instead).

Pardon my cynicism--yes, Noriega probably is an ailing old man--but it looks like his defense team is gonna try to pull a "Pinochet in London" and attempt to have him released on humanitarian grounds. As some of you may recall, Pinochet was arrested back in 1999 while he was in London getting medical treatment because of an extradition request from Spain. Long story short, after a protracted legal battle, it was determined that Chile's ex-dictator was unfit to stand trial due to his ailing health condition.

Well, just watch the video below to see how that one turned out. Upon returning to Chile, Pinochet--supposedly too sick to stand trial--surprised his welcoming crowd by immediately standing up from his wheelchair and proceeding to practically dance the damn cueca (Chile's national folk dance).

Ok, so maybe I exaggerated a bit on that last one. But the point is that the supposedly ailing dictator was certainly in far better health than it appeared. And, more importantly, putting on that little act allowed him to avoid prosecution for human rights abuses.

Now, this little blast from the past aside, if his defense succeeds in having his case thrown out in France, Noriega will probably face extradition back to Panama to serve more time there. But should we care where Noriega goes to jail next? Unlike in France, if extradited to Panama Noriega would have a chance of serving his sentence under house arrest. On the other hand, it seems more fitting for an ex-dictator to serve his sentence in his own country where he committed his crimes.

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