Many indifferent as Noriega returns
PANAMA CITY — Manuel Noriega is back in his Panamanian homeland after nearly 22 years, sitting in a prison cell in a country he ruled as a personal fiefdom until U.S. troops invaded and hauled him off to a Florida jail.
A few protesters gathered outside El Renacer prison as the 77-year-old former general was spirited inside Sunday night after an extradition flight from France, yet the overwhelming mood among his countrymen seemed to be indifference.
While some people banged pots and honked car horns in Panama City’s downtown in a symbolic gesture of disdain for Noriega, most Panamanians on the capital’s crowded streets were out holiday shopping.
Noriega, who served 17 years in U.S. prison for drug trafficking and nearly two years in France for a money-laundering conviction, has begun serving three 20-year sentences in Panama for the killings of political opponents in the 1980s.
Officials whisked him into prison without letting anyone see him, a move that irritated some of the protesters outside.
“Why not let him be seen? What are they hiding? We want to see him handcuffed in a cell,” Mr. Barria told the TVN news channel.
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