Panama ex-dictator Noriega remains in critical state after surgery

This handout file picture taken on December 14, 2011 shows Panamanian former dictator Manuel Noriega having his mug shot being taken at the El Renacer penitentiary, 25 km southeast of Panama City

Panama's former dictator, Manuel Noriega, remained in a critical condition on Wednesday following surgery to remove a benign brain tumor, one of his daughters told AFP.

"We have no news. Everything remains the same from last night's bulletin," said Thays Noriega.

Manuel Noriega, 83, was in an induced coma in the intensive care unit of the public Santo Tomas Hospital in Panama City. He was under observation and not receiving visitors.

Noriega's lawyer, Ezra Angel, confirmed to AFP that there have been no changes to 83-year-old's state since late Tuesday.

Noriega underwent two operations on Tuesday: one to remove a benign meningioma -- a tumor on membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord just inside the skull -- and another to stop a brain hemorrhage.

Angel said doctors had managed to stop the cerebral bleeding, but that Noriega remained in a "delicate" condition.

Noriega in January received a temporary medical release from El Renacer prison -- where he was serving three 20-year sentences for the forced disappearances of opponents during his 1983-1989 rule -- to have the surgery.

He is expected to return to that penitentiary if he recovers.

Panama's media gave front-page coverage of the ex-dictator's health emergency, but offered no editorials on it. Major television stations maintained regular programming.

Manuel Noriega was a military intelligence officer who long worked for the CIA and ruled his Central American country with increasing brutality until US forces invaded in 1989 to topple and capture him.

Relations between Noriega and the United States had deteriorated as he defied pressure to stand down, and as he appeared to shift allegiance to the then-Soviet Union in the waning years of the Cold War.

After his ouster, Noriega was taken to the United States, where he was tried and imprisoned on drug trafficking and money laundering charges.

In 2010, Noriega was sent to France, where he was convicted on money laundering charges, then extradited to Panama in 2011, where he was sentenced for the disappearance of political opponents during his time in power.

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