PANAMA CITY – Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno, who was ousted from power by U.S. soldiers in 1989 and spent years in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering, has died. He was 83.
Noriega died in Panama City’s Santo Tomás Hospital where he had been recovering from surgery in early March to remove a brain tumor, and a subsequent operation to address bleeding.
President Juan Carlos Varela wrote on Twitter that Noriega’s death “closed a chapter in our history.” He said the ex-strongman’s family “deserved to bury him in peace.”
Muerte de Manuel A. Noriega cierra un capítulo de nuestra historia; sus hijas y sus familiares merecen un sepelio en paz.
— Juan Carlos Varela (@JC_Varela) May 30, 2017
Government communications secretary Manuel Domínguez said that Noriega died late Monday.
Noriega had been serving lengthy prison sentences in Panama for murder and forced disappearances during his 1983-1989 dictatorship.
The ex-general had been granted temporary release on February 28 from his prison overlooking the Panama Canal to undergo surgery.
Following years of ill health that included respiratory problems, prostate cancer and depression, Noriega’s family pleaded with the authorities to allow him to serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest.
The government rejected their appeals, however, and said Noriega would return to prison once he recovered from the brain tumor surgery.