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Panama Justice Ministry, Associated Press
This undated photo provided by Panama's Justice Ministry shows an area of a jail cell at El Renacer prison, where Panama's former dictator Manuel Noriega will be taken upon his arrival from extradition from France, on the outskirts of Panama City, Sunday Dec. 11, 2011. According to Panama's government, this is the kind of cell that Noriega will be put in when he arrives Sunday. Noriega's return comes after more than 20 years in U.S. and French prisons for drug trafficking and money laundering. Panama convicted him during his captivity overseas for the slayings of two political opponents in the 1980s.

PANAMA CITY, Panama — Former dictator Manuel Noriega has arrived in Panama for the first time in 22 years, returning as an extradited prisoner to the country he once ruled with an iron grip.

Officials say a helicopter is waiting to whisk him to the El Renacer prison to serve three 20-year sentences for the slayings of political opponents in the 1980s.

It is the first time since Noriega was ousted in a December 1989 U.S. invasion that he has been in his native country. He has been returned after serving drug sentences in the United States and then a money-laundering term in a French prison.

Noriega arrived Sunday on a flight operated by Spain's Iberia airlines. He was delivered directly to the aircraft by a security escort from Paris' La Sante prison.