Panama's government and judicial authorities have been closely monitoring the French proceedings.
Noriega "is going to go to jail when he arrives in Panama," President Ricardo Martinelli has said, while adding "the law does say that a citizen who is over 70 years old can be granted the privilege of house arrest."
"That's not necessarily going to happen — but it's something the judge has to decide," Martinelli told reporters last week.
The extradition was rendered especially complex because the United States, as the country that authorized Noriega's initial transfer to France, had to give its consent for him to be shipped onward to Panama.
In the meantime, Noriega has grown feeble, his lawyers say. His exact age isn't clear.
In Panama, political analyst Jose Blandon said Noriega has to come home "to ask for forgiveness to the people for the things he did. He is an old man with serious health problems, but he has to face justice."
Sociologist Marco Gandasegui said that Noriega's return is a step forward for the country to finish processing that period in the country's history.
"Noriega's return will probably have more meaning emotionally than politically," he said. "Emotionally in the sense that we will be able to put into balance what happened 22 years ago (the U.S. invasion), politically I doubt the ex-general could have an impact since now Panamanians have other worries."
Associated Press writer Juan Zamorano contributed from Panama City.
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