Panama doctors recommend more care for ex-dictator Noriega

May 21, 2012

PANAMA CITY – Ex-dictator Manuel Noriega should remain hospitalized or “in a safe place where his illnesses can be treated properly,” Humberto Mas, director of Panama’s Legal Institute of Medicine and Forensic Sciences, a branch of the Prosecutor’s Office, said Monday.

Mas said Noriega “must be under a specific treatment for his ailments,” before doctors can issue a report recommending whether Noriega should be released from prison for health reasons to serve time under house arrest or in a hospital.

On Friday Noriega was “in stable medical condition without fever,” but on the recommendation of specialists, he remained in a Panama City hospital “for the weekend to rule out any complications,” the government said in a statement.

The 78-year-old former strongman was transferred to a hospital Wednesday from a prison where he is serving three consecutive 20-year sentences for the disappearance of political opponents during his ruling years, from 1983 to 1989. A one-time CIA informant, he was overthrown in a U.S. invasion in 1989.

His doctors and lawyers have been seeking permission for him to serve out his prison term in a hospital or under house arrest because of his health. According to doctors, Noriega recently was diagnosed as having two strokes, heart disease, meningioma (a brain tumor) and depression.

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