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Panama ex-dictator Noriega in critical condition after surgery

Former military strongman and ruler of Panama, Manuel Noriega, is in critical condition after undergoing two brain surgeries. The 83-year-old had a benign tumor and suffered a hemorrhage.

Doctors detected the bleeding following the Tuesday operation, Noriega's daughters Thays, Lorena, and Sandra told reporters at the Santo Tomas public hospital in Panama city.

"He has a major brain hemorrhage and is in a serious condition," Lorena Noriega said.

Manuel Antonio Noriega Auslieferung USA Frankreich (picture-alliance/ dpa)

Noriega ruled Panama for six years before the US invasion

Just a few hours earlier, Noriega's lawyer Ezra Angel described an operation to remove a benign tumor from his brain as a "success," according to the Reuters news agency. Later, however, he told reporters that the strongman's life was in danger as he was back on the operating table.

"The first operation already compromised his life, this second operation is even more risky," he said.

"He is sedated," the lawyer said. "His condition is critical after undergoing a [second] open brain surgery in less than eight hours."

The ex-dictator was transferred from a Panamanian jail to house arrest in late January to prepare for the surgery, which was set to remove a benign tumor from his brain. His family had hoped that his poor health would allow him to stay at home.

Noriega had worked for the CIA for decades before taking power in Panama in 1983, where he set up an authoritarian regime, kidnapping political opponents and forging election results. His relations with the US deteriorated in the following years, and he was ousted by American invasion in 1989. He was arrested as a prisoner of war and imprisoned in the US on drug trafficking and money laundering charges.

He was extradited to France in 2010 where he was also convicted on money laundering, and then to Panama in 2011, where he had been sentenced in absentia to three 20-year prison terms for the disappearance of political rivals.

dj/bw (Reuters, AP, AFP)