Jailed Panama dictator moved to house arrest for brain surgery

image copyrightAFP
image captionFormer Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega (pictured in 2011) has a benign brain tumour

Jailed former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega has been granted house arrest so he can undergo brain surgery, his lawyer has said.

The 82-year-old, who ruled from 1983 until a US invasion ousted him in 1989, needs to have a benign tumour removed.

His lawyer Ezra Angel successfully argued Noriega should be allowed to prepare and recuperate at home, instead of a hospital or in prison.

Noriega was jailed in Panama for murder, corruption and embezzlement.

He was convicted of the crimes carried out during his rule in absentia and extradited from France to Panama to serve his sentence in 2011.

The former strong man and one-time US ally has also served time in the US and France on drug and money laundering charges.

Noriega will return to prison once he has recovered, and will also spend time at home before undergoing the surgery.

His doctor Eduardo Reyes said it was important he was not taken directly from prison to the operating theatre because "it is not a simple case".

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