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.