“The death of Manuel Noriega closes a chapter of our history,” Panama president, Juan Carlos Varela said.
Panamanian ex-general Manuel Noriega died Monday night at the age of 83 in the Santo Tomas hospital, government officials confirmed.
On condition of anonymity, a government official said Noriega died at around 11 p.m. local time after his condition suddenly took a turn for the worse. “Mr. Noriega died tonight,” Secretary of State for Communication Manuel Dominguez confirmed to the AFP.
Sitting Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela also posted the announcement of Noriega’s death on Twitter late Monday night. “The death of Manuel Noriega closes a chapter of our history, his daughters and their families deserve a funeral in peace,” Panama president, Juan Carlos Varela said in the post.
Noriega had temporarily left the Renacer prison on Jan. 28 – where he was serving sentences for disappearances and murders – in order to undergo an operation.
Following a March 7 operation for a benign tumor, in the Panamanian capital, he was readmitted due to brain bleeding. A subsequent operation resulted in the ex-dictator being in critical condition until the time of his death.
The military ruler of the Central American state made headlines around the world when his relationship with the United States took a turn for the worst. This caused Washington to deploy some 28,000 troops to seize Panama City and capture him.
Noriega, who ruled Panama from 1983 to 1989, was reportedly a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency prior to the U.S. toppling his regime – putting an end to his alleged links to drug traffickers like Pablo Escobar
After the bloody U.S. military invasion in 1989, he was imprisoned for alleged drug trafficking and money laundering in the U.S. and France, which later extradited him to Panama in 2011. Noriega spent the rest of his life in custody between the U.S., France and Panama for crimes ranging from murder to racketeering and drug-running.
In Panama, he was serving three sentences for the disappearance and murder of opponent Hugo Spadafora in 1985, military official Moises Giroldi in 1989, as well as the so-called Albrook massacre – where several soldiers died after revolting in 1989.
He also had other pending cases for disappearances that took place when he was head of the defunct National Guard.