PANAMA – Former Panama’s dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega died Monday night at the age of 83 at the Santo Tomas hospital in Panama City, the hospital announced on Tuesday.
“Confirmed,” said Noriega’s lawyer, confirming the death of Panama’s former “Strongman,” who ruled the country between 1983-1989 before being overthrown by an American invasion.
Noriega, who had been in the intensive care unit since March 7 after undergoing an operation removing a benign brain tumor, died at 11:00 pm local time (0400 GMT Tuesday), according to local media.
Noriega’s health condition was worsened after the former strongman had to undergo a second surgical operation due to cerebral bleeding he suffered a few hours after receiving the March 7 surgery.
Since then he has been in the intensive care unit of Santo Tomas Hospital, the largest medical facility in the country. Rumors surrounding his death or his worsening fragile health have been frequent among the Panamanians.
Noriega was extradited to Panama on Dec. 11, 2011 after serving more than 20 years in jail in the United States and France for drug trafficking and money laundering.
He was serving more than 60 years in El Renacer prison near Panama City until Jan. 28, when the Justice granted him temporary house arrest so that he could complete the pre and postoperative care outside prison.
In 2010, a new criminal charge was laid against him for his alleged involvement in the disappearance in 1970 and death of the leftist leader Heliodoro Portugal, but the trial was suspended in 2016 due to Noriega’s health problems.