A US judge has refused to block the extradition of the former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega to France, where he faces ten years in prison for money laundering.

He was captured after the 1989 US military invasion of Panama.

Noriega, now 72, has served almost 18 years of an original 40-year sentence for drug trafficking and racketeering, and is scheduled to be released from prison in September.

His lawyer Frank Rubino said that, as a POW, Noriega has the right under the Geneva Conventions to be returned to his home country after serving his sentence.