July 1, 1999

Noriega and wife get 10-year sentences in Paris

                  PARIS (Reuters) - A French court Thursday sentenced Panama's former
                  dictator Manuel Noriega and his wife in their absence to 10 years in jail and
                  a $33 million fine for laundering drug money.

                  The court issued an arrest warrant against the couple and ordered their
                  assets confiscated.

                  Two luxury central Paris apartments belonging to the Noriegas, as well as a
                  sum of $1.6 million from the sale of a third, had already been frozen.

                  The court granted the state of Panama a symbolic one franc -- or 20 cents
                  -- in damages for the harm the Noriegas had done to its image.

                  Noriega, ousted and arrested in a U.S. military intervention in Panama, has
                  been behind bars in Florida since 1990 for drug trafficking.

                  A U.S. judge ruled in March in favor of a 10-year reduction in Noriega's
                  40-year Florida jail term, meaning that he could be free on parole in the
                  United States as early as 2006.

                  But he is also being prosecuted in the courts in Panama on charges that
                  could land him back in jail for decades in his own country after he serves out
                  his sentence in the United States.

                  Some $16 million was credited between 1982 and 1989 to accounts in four
                  Paris banks opened by the Noriegas and their daughters, as well as by
                  Panamanian diplomats lending their names to the former Panamanian

                  French customs found just $2.3 million in the accounts when the Noriega
                  assets were frozen in 1989 and an investigation opened.