The Miami Herald
Mon, Dec. 06, 2004
Ex-Panamanian dictator back in prison after health scare

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega returned to his special federal-prison suite Monday after being hospitalized over the weekend for irregular blood pressure, his lawyer's office said.

Noriega, 70, was hospitalized after his blood pressure went high and then low, the office of his attorney, Frank Rubino, said.

Noriega was arrested in 1989 following a U.S. invasion of Panama. He was convicted in Miami federal court for his role in protecting of Colombian cocaine shipments through his country in the 1980s.

He is serving a 30-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institute, near Metrozoo in Southwest Miami-Dade. Noriega, who lives in a private apartment-like cell complex at the prison, has to serve at least two-thirds of his sentence, and is scheduled for release in 2007 after deductions in his sentence for good behavior.

Earlier this year, the trial judge, William M Hoeveler, took the unusual step of recommending Noriega's early release on parole. But a parole commissioner rejected the former general's third request in four years for early release.