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Ex-dictator Noriega returns to Panama

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Ex-dictator Noriega returns to Panama


Panama’s military dictator of the 1980s, Manuel Noriega, has arrived back home. He has spent the last two decades in American and French jails for drug trafficking.

Now 77, the former leader has been extradited back to Panama where he is due to serve three 20-year prison terms for the murders of opponents during his rule.

Said to be ill, Noriega landed in Panama escorted by police but accompanied by the country’s attorney-general and a doctor.

Noriega was toppled in a US invasion of Panama in 1989. He was convicted in absentia in three homicide cases involving 11 murders, including the 1985 beheading of a doctor who threatened to reveal Noriega’s drug ties.

He was also responsible for the executions of nine officers who staged a failed coup.

His return is unlikely to have a major political impact on the country although he may shed light on the numerous unsolved killings and disappearances during the period of army rule.

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