Noriega Extradited To Panama For More Prison Time
The 77-year-old still faces further charges, the Telegraph reports.While being held abroad, Noriega was tried in absentia for 3 cases involving 11 murders, including the beheading of physician and opponent, Hugo Spadafora. The physician had threatened to expose Noriega's drug ties.
The former military dictator was Panama's de facto ruler from 1983 until 1989. He has spent the past two decades serving prison sentences for drug trafficking in the United States and money laundering in France.
The former dictator and U.S. ally was accompanied by six ministry officials, a doctor and a prosecutor on his long-awaited return flight to the country he ruled with brutal tactics, ABC reports. A 12-square meter cell has been prepared for Noriega in El Renacer, or rebirth, prison on the banks of the Panama Canal in Panama City.
"He was very impatient, very happy. He's going home," one of his French lawyers, Antonin Levy, told the AP, a day after his last visit with Noriega.
His return will likely do little to change Panama's current political state, but many questions remain to be answered by Noriega. Over 100 killings or disappearances are still unsolved from the period of Panama's military rule, which stretched from 1968 to 1989.
One of the murders Noriega will be tried for is that of Heliodoro Portugal, who opposed the military regime.
"We hope he talks and says where the rest of the disappeared are, what happened to those who were killed," said Patria Portugal, who has spent decades fighting for justice in her father's case. "We hope ... he asks for forgiveness of the Panamanian nation for the all the crimes he committed."
Noriega rose to power with U.S. support, originally groomed by the C.I.A. as an informant and operative in the fight against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. As general, he allowed the U.S. to transport supplies and troops. He remained on the C.I.A. payroll until a year before he was overthrown by the U.S., according to the Guardian. President George H.W. Bush offered a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture before the U.S. military famously forced Noriega to surrender by blasting his hideout with loud rock music, including the Clash's "I Fought the Law."
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