April 6, 1999

Panama seeks Noriega's extradition over killings

                  PANAMA CITY, April 6 (Reuters) -- Panama's high court
                  has asked the United States to extradite former military dictator
                  Manuel Noriega so Panama can jail him for the executions of
                  army officers who tried to oust him in 1989, officials said on Tuesday.

                  Noriega, who is now serving a 30-year term in a U.S. jail for drug
                  trafficking, was found guilty in absentia by Panama's courts in 1995 of
                  conspiracy to commit murder in the Oct. 3, 1989 firing squad executions of
                  nine military officers. They had led an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow his

                  Panama's high court in 1995 condemned Noriega for his involvement in the
                  executions, which took place at the former Albrook Air Force base in what
                  was once the U.S.-controlled Panama Canal Zone. The two leaders of the
                  revolt were also tortured and executed separately.

                  "The court is negotiating the extradition of Manuel Noriega for (conspiracy
                  to commit murder) in the Albrook case," the court said in a statement.

                  A U.S. Embassy spokesman said his office had not been notified of the

                  Sentencing in the Albrook case is still pending but Noriega could face 20
                  years in jail over the executions.

                  Noriega, who ruled between 1983 and 1989, could also face 20 years in jail
                  after being condemned in absentia in the 1985 torture and death of Hugo
                  Spadafora, a doctor and journalist who was one of Noriega's most vocal

                  The former military strongman, who has been in a Florida prison since
                  shortly after the U.S. invasion of Panama on Dec. 20, 1989, will be eligible
                  for parole in the United States in 2006.

                  Noriega and his wife, Felicidad, also face charges of money laundering in