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Monday, March 22, 2010

Supreme Court declines to reconsider Noriega extradition appeal
Michael Kraemer at 2:18 PM ET

[JURIST]] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday declined to reconsider [order list, PDF] a petition filed by former Panamanian military leader General Manuel Noriega [BBC backgrounder, JURIST news archive] to stop his extradition to France on money laundering charges. Noriega's lawyers filed the petition last month after the Supreme Court denied certiorari [JURIST reports] on the case in January. Noriega, who has been declared a prisoner of war, sought to enforce a provision of the Geneva Convention [ICRC backgrounder] that requires repatriation at the end of confinement. Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented from the original denial of certiorari, arguing that the court should use the opportunity to resolve confusion over its decision in Boumediene v. Bush [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] granting federal courts the power to review habeas petitions brought by "enemy combatants."

Last April, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that Noriega's claim was precluded by § 5 of the Military Commission Act of 2006 [text, PDF], which the government argued "codifie[d] the principle that the Geneva Conventions [a]re not judicially enforceable by private parties." Noriega was challenging a district court's August 2007 ruling [JURIST report] that allows him to be extradited to France. He is wanted in France on charges of money laundering through French banks. Noriega and his wife were sentenced in absentia [Reuters report] to 10 years in jail in 1999, but France has agreed to hold a new trial if he is extradited.

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