Manuel Noriega Hospitalized

February 5, 2012 by staff 

Manuel Noriega Hospitalized, Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was hospitalized Sunday for what officials said was “hypertension with a possibility of a stroke,” a police statement said.

The 77-year-old Noriega, who is incarcerated for crimes committed while in office, was taken from his prison cell to the Hospital Santo Tomas, police said, without elaborating on his condition.

The ex-military ruler, who has suffered several strokes in the past, spent 22 years behind bars in the United States and France on drug trafficking and money laundering charges before being extradited to Panama on December 11.

A military dictator from 1983 to 1989, Noriega faces three separate sentences after being convicted in absentia for crimes committed in Panama, including the murder of critics.

He also faces a series of other complaints for human rights abuses.

Noriega spent 20 years in a Miami prison on drug charges after his overthrow, and was then extradited to France, where he was sentenced to six years in prison for laundering money for the Medellin drug cartel. He spent nearly two years behind bars before he was extradited.

A truth commission in Panama found 110 cases of murders and forced disappearances of Noriega opponents during his dictatorship.

The return of Noriega, who was on the CIA’s payroll from 1968 to 1986 before he became an enemy of Washington, has sparked speculation at the possibility that he could reveal secrets about political figures and wealth amassed under his regime.

Noriega’s rule came to an end when then US president George H.W. Bush ordered US troops to invade Panama on December 20, 1989, claiming it was necessary to safeguard US citizens, secure the US-built canal, battle drug trafficking and defend democracy.

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