Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega dies at 83
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Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega dies at 83

Onetime US ally, spent final years in jail for murder of his political opponents

In this May 2, 1989 file photo, Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega walks with supporters in the Chorrilo neighborhood, where he dedicated a new housing project, in Panama City. (AP/John Hopper, File)
In this May 2, 1989 file photo, Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega walks with supporters in the Chorrilo neighborhood, where he dedicated a new housing project, in Panama City. (AP/John Hopper, File)

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega has died, a source close to his family said. He was 83.

The source was not authorized to be quoted by name. There was no immediate information on the cause of death, which occurred late Monday.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela wrote in his Twitter account that “the death of Manuel A. Noriega closes a chapter in our history.”

The onetime US ally was ousted as Panama’s dictator by an American invasion in 1989.

Noriega later served a 17-year drug sentence in the United States.

This Jan.1990, file photo shows deposed Panamanian Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, who is serving a 40-year sentence in Miami for drug trafficking. (AP, File)
This Jan.1990, file photo shows deposed Panamanian Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, who is serving a 40-year sentence in Miami for drug trafficking. (AP, File)

He spent the first two decades after his ouster in US and French jails and the final years of his life in a Panamanian prison for murder of political opponents during his 1983-89 regime.

Noriega accused Washington of a “conspiracy” to keep him behind bars and tied his legal troubles to his refusal to cooperate with a US plan aimed at toppling Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government in the 1980s.

In recent years, Noriega had suffered various ailments, including high blood pressure and bronchitis.

In 2016, doctors detected the rapid growth of a benign brain tumor that had first been spotted four years earlier. In January of this year, a court granted him house arrest to prepare for surgery on the tumor.

Noriega is survived by his wife, Felicidad, and daughters Lorena, Thays and Sandra.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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