6 Feb 2012

Noriega moved from prison to hospital

6:58 pm on 6 February 2012

The former military leader of Panama, Manuel Noriega, has been moved from his prison cell near Panama City to a hospital.

Prison authorities moved him because they believe he may have suffered a stroke.

However, Panama's health minister says his condition is stable and tests had not shown any evidence of a stroke.

General Noriega, who is 77, is serving a prison sentence for the murder of political opponents.

He ruled Panama for six years until he was removed from power in 1989 when the United States invaded Panama.

He was extradited to Panama in December after serving lengthy sentences in France and the US.

He spent 20 years in prison in the US for drug trafficking and in 2010 was extradited to France where he had been convicted and sentenced to a seven-year jail term in his absence for laundering money from Columbian drug gangs through a French bank.

The BBC reports that there had been speculation General Noriega would be allowed to leave his prison cell as Panama allows prisoners aged 70 or older to serve their sentence at home.

However, to date, the authorities have kept him in prison.