Ex-dictator of Panama to undergo brain surgery

By Senabri Silvestre

SANTO DOMINGO, Dom. Rep. (AA) – Panama’s former dictator, Manuel Noriega, will undergo surgery to remove a benign brain tumor next week, his doctor Eduardo Reyes said Saturday.

Noriega, imprisoned for the disappearance of opponents under his regime in the 1980s, will be transferred to the state-run Santo Tomas hospital in Panama City three days prior to the operation scheduled for July 21, Reyes said.

“The benign tumor, detected in 2012, has continued to grow and needs surgery because it can cause significant deterioration in speech or motor area and irreversible damage,” Reyes told AFP.

Noriega’s lawyer, Angel Ezra, told local media that doctors requested house arrest for the 82-year-old patient before he undergoes the procedure. “Based in medical report, the jail conditions is not adequate to keep Noriega in good health”, Ezra said while speaking to EFE.

Ezra anticipates a judge to rule in favor of house arrest after appealing in May to the Second Superior Court.

Among other ailments, the Noriega is suffering from hypertension, heart and kidney complications as well as neurological and motor problems.

The ex-general is currently serving three 20-year prison sentences at the El Renacer prison, near the Panama Canal, for the disappearance and death of opponent Hugo Spadafora in 1985 and of Moses Giroldi, who died after rebelling against the former dictator in 1989.

Noriega ruled from 1983 until he was toppled by a U.S. invasion in 1989.

In 2011, he was extradited to Panama after serving 21 years in U.S. and French prisons for drug trafficking and money laundering.