General Manuel Antonio Noriega, former dictator of Panama, has died aged 83, the country’s officials have announced.
Noriega had been held in a medically induced coma after suffering brain haemorrhaging in March following a procedure to have a tumour removed from his brain, BBC writes.
Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela took to Twitter to announce the passing of one of the country’s most iconic figures.
Muerte de Manuel A. Noriega cierra un capítulo de nuestra historia; sus hijas y sus familiares merecen un sepelio en paz.
— Juan Carlos Varela (@JC_Varela) May 30, 2017
Noriega was a key US ally but was forcibly removed from office when American troops invaded Panama in 1989 and was later jailed in the US on charges of drugs and money laundering.
He spent the rest of his life in custody in the US and later in Panama for murder, corruption and embezzlement.
But the former strongman was released into house arrest in January to prepare for the operation to remove a brain tumour, before his death at Panama City’s Santo Tomas hospital while undergoing further surgery after cerebral bleeding.
Noriega became the de facto leader of Panama, serving a six-year tenure as military governor in the 1980s when he initially positioned his country as a US asset in a region that was becoming increasingly hostile to Washington’s interests.
Their relationship soon went south and he was indicted in a US federal court on drug-trafficking charges in 1988, prompting President George HW Bush launched an invasion.
He served 17 years in jail during which time he was convicted in absentia in France of money laundering and sentenced to seven years.