A French court has approved former dictator Manuel Noriega's extradition to Panama, allowing him to return home for the first time since he was forced out in a U.S. invasion more than 20 years ago.

The appeals court announced the decision in Paris on Wednesday after months of legal procedures.

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Panama was granted permission by a court in Paris Thursday to extradite former military strongman Manuel Antonio Noriega. Panama plans to try the elderly former general in the latest phase of his complex legal odyssey. (Associated Press)

Panama sought Noriega's extradition so that he can serve out sentences given after he was convicted in absentia there for homicide, corruption and embezzlement.

Noriega has spent the last two decades behind bars in Florida and France.

France's prime minister, Francois Fillon, now needs to sign an administrative decree allowing for Noriega to be transferred, possibly within days.