Manuel Noriega, dictator ousted from Panama by US invasion, dead aged 83

NOTORIOUS Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who was ousted from power by a US invasion in 1989, has died aged 83.

Noriega, who took power in Panama in 1983, was in a hospital recovering from a brain tumour operation. The announcement was made by government communications secretary Manuel Dominguez.

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

As a military officer in the 1960s and 70s Noriega was a CIA informant, distributing cash and weapons to US-backed forces throughout South America.

But he was also a cocaine trafficker, something that only caught up with him much later when relations between his dictatorship and the US soured.

He was indicted for drug trafficking in Florida in 1988. A year later the US invaded Panama and seized Noriega as a prisoner of war.

He was convicted in the US of dug trafficking, racketeering and money laundering charges.

Noriega’s 30-year conviction ended in 2007, but was extradited to France on murder charges.

He returned to Panama in December 2011 to serve his time there.

He died today in Panama City.

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