Panamanian ex-dictator set to undergo brain tumor surgery

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PANAMA CITY: Panama’s imprisoned former dictator Manuel Noriega will undergo surgery next week for a benign brain tumor, his doctor said Friday.

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Physician Eduardo Reyes told Agence France-Presse the surgery is set for July 21 at the Santo Tomas hospital in Panama City. He will be admitted prior to the operation on July 18 for medical testing.

The ex-general’s relatives renewed calls to move the 82-year-old to house arrest for health reasons, requests that have been turned down several times.

Reyes said the tumor was originally diagnosed in France and “has grown in Panama in recent years in a worrisome way.”

The doctor said Noriega’s age along with his heart and lung diseases made the surgery “high risk.”

Noriega was a military dictator of Panama in the 80’s. He was removed from power by US invasion and served time in US and French prisons for drug trafficking and money laundering.

Since being extradited from France to Panama in 2011, Noriega has been convicted for the disappearance of several political opponents during his rule from 1983 to 1989.

He is currently incarcerated at the El Renacer prison.

The former dictator has suffered several strokes and has prostate cancer and heart disease.

Noriega’s lawyer Angel Ezra did not rule out the possibility that the octogenarian could refuse the operation if conditions are not optimal. AFP

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