Manuel Noriega, the former dictator of Panama and US ally who went on to serve nearly two decades as a US prisoner, has died. The 83-year-old died around 11pm Monday at a hospital in Panama City after undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor in March, reports the BBC. He is believed to have been placed in an induced coma after a brain hemorrhage, reports CNN. In a tweet Tuesday, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said Noriega's death "closes a chapter in our history." After the death of his mentor, Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera, Noriega became general of the National Guard in 1983 and ruled as the de facto leader of Panama until his capture by US authorities in 1990, reports the New York Times.
During the 1980s, he was a US ally who shared intelligence on Cuba, terrorism, and drug activity. But he was also accused of oppressing political opponents, rigging elections, working with drug traffickers, and assisting Cuban secret agents, reports the Times. He was eventually charged with drug trafficking and money laundering in the US and captured during the US invasion of Panama. He was convicted and served 18 years before he was extradited to France and convicted of money laundering in 2010. A year later, he was returned to Panama to serve a 20-year sentence for embezzlement, corruption, and the murder of his opponents, per the Guardian. In 2015, he apologized to those "offended, affected, harmed or humiliated by my actions or those of my superiors whilst carrying out orders."