Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega [BBC profile] died late Monday night at the age of 83. President Juan Carlos Varela announced his death [Twitter post] saying, “The death of Manuel A. Noriega closes a chapter in our history; his daughters and his relatives deserve to bury him in peace.” Noriega spent the last 27 years of his life [TIMES report] serving prison sentences in France, the US and Panama for embezzlement, corruption and murder during his reign in the 1980s. In January he was allowed to go on house arrest [JURIST report] to prepare for brain surgery that was necessary to remove what his doctors described as a benign tumor. He was placed in intensive care on March 7 due to a brain hemorrhage that resulted from complications during surgery. After a second operation, he remained in a coma [Reuters report] until his death.
Noriega was the strong-man dictator of Panama from 1983-1989 until he was ousted by US troops sent in by former president George HW Bush. In 2011 Noriega was sent from France to Panama where he had been serving a prison sentence for the murder of opposition leaders during his dictatorship. In 2010 Noriega was extradited to France from the US to stand trial for money laundering, where he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment [JURIST reports]. Noriega was originally convicted in the US of eight counts [CNN report] of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering in 1992 and spent the next 17 years in a Miami federal prison.