Former Panama dic­ta­tor Nor­iega dies at 83

New Straits Times - - World -

Panama’s former dic­ta­tor Manuel An­to­nio Nor­iega, who died here on Mon­day, was phys­i­cally di­min­ished af­ter decades of im­pris­on­ment for crimes com­mit­ted dur­ing his 1983-1989 rule.

Nor­iega, 83, died in Santo To­mas Hos­pi­tal where he had been re­cov­er­ing from an early March surgery to re­move a brain tu­mour, and a sub­se­quent op­er­a­tion to clean up cere­bral bleed­ing.

Nor­iega had been serv­ing prison time for mur­der and f o r c e d d i s a p p e a rances dur­ing his dic­ta­tor­ship, and was be­ing held in a prison cell over­look­ing the Panama Canal.

The ex-strong­man had been granted tem­po­rary re­lease on Jan 28 to un­dergo the med­i­cal pro­ce­dure.

Fol­low­ing years of ill-health, Nor­iega’s fam­ily pleaded with authorities to let him serve the rest of his sen­tence un­der house ar- rest. But the govern­ment re­jected their ap­peals.

Nor­iega was top­pled in a De­cem­ber 1989 United States mil­i­tary in­va­sion, a dra­matic fall from power for a man who had risen through the ranks of Panama’s mil­i­tary while work­ing for the Central In­tel­li­gence Agency.

Af­ter sur­ren­der­ing to US troops in Jan­uar y 1990, he was flown to the US where he was con­victed on drug traf­fick­ing and money l aun­der­ing c h a r g e s , a n d s e ntenced to prison.

In 2010, Nor­iega was sent to France, where he was con­victed on money laun­der­ing charges.

The fol­low­ing year, Nor­iega was ex­tra­dited to Panama, where he was locked up for the 1985 mur­der of a po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent, the 1989 mur­der of a mil­i­tary of­fi­cer who at­tempted a coup against him and for the mas­sacre of sol­diers re­belling against him.

Manuel An­to­nio Nor­iega

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