Noriega moved to Missouri prison hospital
BY CAROL ROSENBERG
Deposed Panamanian strongman Manuel Antonio Noriega, serving a
for racketeering, money laundering and drug trafficking, has been undergoing treatment
for the past month at the nation's premier federal prison hospital in Missouri, The Herald
Prison officials refuse to describe Noriega's illness, citing
privacy guidelines. Scott Wolfson
of the Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C., said Thursday that Noriega, 63, has been
at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo., since Sept. 23.
Noriega's transfer had not been disclosed previously.
The 1,150-inmate facility is also home to jailed-for-life New
York mob boss John
Gotti, who has cancer.
Noriega's attorney Frank Rubino said through an aide that he understood
onetime ``maximum leader'' was suffering from ``a bad flu.''
Wolfson would say only that the hospital houses prisoners with
prolonged and/or chronic medical need'' for which treatment is not possible in a
regular federal prison.
Noriega is apparently being housed in the Missouri facility's
``surgical unit.'' An
employee at the surgical unit refered all Noriega queries to administrator Rich
Veach, who said authorities could not give information on the Panamanian's
condition because he had not signed a consent form.
Wolfson would not predict how long Noriega would stay in Missouri
but said the
move was not classified as ``permanent.'' Some prisoners need to reside there
indefinitely for prolonged treatment, he said, while others ``can be moved back to
other facilities if their surgery or treatment is successful.''
Noriega was brought to South Florida for trial in January 1990
after surrendering to
U.S. military forces that had invaded his homeland in Operation Just Cause. He
was declared a prisoner of war by U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler, who
oversaw his trial.
Since his conviction in April 1992, Noriega had been housed in
confinement at the Federal Correctional Institution in south Miami-Dade County, a
manicured, palm-tree studded facility with terra-cotta roofs surrounded by
He occupied a 250-square-foot cinder block apartment there, which
nicknamed ``the presidential suite.''
Wolfson would not describe Noriega's accommodations at the prison hospital.
In the 1988 federal indictment, Noriega was described as a ``corrupt
sold out to Colombia's Medellin drug cartel by taking payoffs to transform Panama
into a way station for U.S.-bound cocaine.
Hoeveler said Thursday that he had not been told of the move.
In March, Hoeveler sliced 10 years off Noriega's original 40-year
meaning he is due for release on Dec. 10, 2007. He would be 71.
Other infamous prisoners who have been treated at the Missouri
campus include porn publisher Larry Flint, Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard and
Egyptian Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted of terror charges.
Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz, died there.