San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Panamanian Gov’t to Sell Mansion Seized from Noriega

PANAMA CITY – A mansion in Panama City seized in 1990 from Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega will be the first of the former strongman’s properties to be sold off this year, the press reported Sunday.

A call for bids on the property, which is in poor condition but still valued at $1.5 million, will be made in two months by the Public Contracts Agency of the Economy and Finance Ministry, according to the daily La Prensa.

“The articles seized that have value for the state are being maintained. Those in bad condition will be eliminated,” said Edwin Gómez, head of the agency’s public property section.

The Comptroller General’s Office agreed last June to transfer all assets, including bank accounts and art works, in Noriega’s name to the government for disposition.

A Panamanian court determined that Noriega amassed a personal fortune of $24 million that he could not justify, having earned a total of only $648,583 during his 1962-1989 military career.

Noriega, who is serving time in a Florida prison for drug trafficking, will be released in September 2007 after a reduction of his sentence for good behavior (NT, March 17).

Noriega will have to return to Panama, since he does not have a visa to remain in the United States, according to former general’s lawyer.

The general, who ruled Panama from 1983 to 1989 and is incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, has been behind bars since Jan. 28, 1990, for conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

U.S. troops invaded Panama on Dec. 20, 1989, to remove Noriega from power.

He was captured and transferred to Florida, where a federal court found him guilty on several counts of drug trafficking and sentenced him to 40 years in prison.

In 1999, judicial authorities reduced his sentence and now it has been reduced again for good conduct and for time served prior to his trial.


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