Manuel Noriega, former Panamanian dictator and drug trafficker, dead at 83

Manuel Noriega, former Panamanian dictator and drug trafficker, dead at 83

Panama's former military dictator Manuel Noriega has died at the age of 83.

Panama's former dictator, Manuel Noriega, died in Panama City late Monday, physically diminished after decades of imprisonment for crimes committed during his 1983-1989 rule.

Noriega was in a medically induced coma state ever since he suffered brain hemorrhage in March.

He had been under house arrest in Panama City since January.

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who spied for the Central Intelligence Agency before his regime sparked an United States invasion in 1989 has died at 83. "His daughters and his relatives deserve to mourn in peace".

A year later, then-US president George H W Bush ordered the invasion. He was later appointed as chief of military intelligence by Torrijos. His mentor Gen Omar Torrijos led a coup in 1968 and took over the reigns of the country.

With U.S. officials in the know, Noriega had formed "the hemisphere's first narcokleptocracy", a U.S. Senate subcommittee report said, calling him "the best example in recent U.S. foreign policy of how a foreign leader is able to manipulate the United States to the detriment of our own interests".

But the United States exhausted of his increasingly repressive role internally in Panama, and there were indications he was selling his services to other intelligence bodies, not to mention drug-trafficking organisations.




The former strongman was flown to the United States where a USA court convicted him on drug trafficking and money laundering charges, and sentenced him to prison. He is survived by his wife and three daughters.

Just eight weeks before Noriega was charged by US prosecutors, the agency still maintained there was insufficient evidence against him.

Noriega took refuge in the Vatican embassy, where he enjoyed protection under worldwide law.

Noriega ruled with an iron fist, ordering the deaths of those who opposed him and maintaining a murky, close and conflictive relationship with the United States. While we suspect Russian involvement in influencing the 2016 presidential election, the USA often intervenes to shape outcomes elsewhere.

The beginning of his downfall came in 1988 when federal grand juries in the Florida cities of Miami and Tampa indicted Noriega on drug trafficking charges.

Per an earlier indictment in USA courts, Noriega was taken to Florida to stand trial. He originally served a 17-year-drug sentence in America and was later sent to France to face charges. After the U.S. extradited him to France, a court there approved a request from Panama in December 2010 to send him back home, where he was convicted again. He was still serving that sentence when he went into surgery.

"In the name of God, I had nothing to do with the death of any of those people", he said at one hearing.

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