Friday, September 19, 2014

Panamá: Manuel Noriega, Now 80 Ages of Age, Will Presumably Die While Incarcerated

According to The Latin American Tribune, Panamá’s Supreme Court has confirmed that former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega, now 80 years of age, is to be tried for the murder of an opponent in 1969, a case that was initially dismissed five years ago.

In a statement released Thursday (September 18), the court said that a lower chamber had filed charges last month against Noriega for the alleged murder of opponent Luís Antonio Quiroz Morales who went missing after being detained by the former dictator.

In addressing an appeal by the public prosecutor’s office against the case’s earlier dismissal, the lower court said there was evidence that placed Noriega in the location where Quiroz was last seen alive.

This evidence, the court argued, indicates “physical presence and opportunity.”

According to the case file, on August 19, 1969, Noriega, then a commander in the Panama National Guard, accompanied by other officers, arrived “in a jeep at Luís Antonio Quiroz Morales’s residence, placed the decedent in a vehicle and since then nothing is known of his whereabouts suggests that he is presumed so he is dead.”

COMMENT: Quiroz Morales, the court said, “was accused of collaborating with suspected guerrillas."

It is now up to the Superior Court of the Third Judicial District to set the schedule for legal proceedings and an murder trial.

Noriega’s defense will be presented by attorney Gisela Vega, the Supreme Court announced.

After his ouster as Panamá’s leader in the US military invasion in 1989, Noriega has served prison terms in the United States and in France for drug trafficking and money laundering.

He is currently in a Panamanian prison serving a 60-year sentence for human rights violations.

There are at least two more trials pending against Noriega for the disappearances and deaths of adversaries between 1968 and 1989.

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