(Prensa.com) Former dictator of Panama, Manuel Antonio Noriega, who is currently serving time in France following a conviction for money-laundering, could be brought to trial in Panama soon for the death of opposition leader and trade unionist Heliodoro Portugal during the military regime (1968-1989).
Prosecutor Sofanor Espinosa informed that they are awaiting confirmation that the Supreme Court of Justice has notified Noriega of the trial, to be held next July here in Panama.
Espinosa has requested a call to trial for the death of Portugal, who was the father of current Ombudsman, Patria Portugal.
The prosecutor went on to explain that it is important that Noriega is notified of the hearing date, so that if he can not appear in person, the trial can still take place without his presence, having been informed about it.
In 1999, the remains of Portugal were found in a former barracks of Los Pumas, located in Tocumen.
Noriega, who is accused of corruption in Panama and has already been sentenced – in absentia – to 15 and 20 years in prison for his role in the killings of former Minister of Health and guerrilla Hugo Spadafora, and military commander Moisés Giroldi, respectively, has asked to be sent to Panama from France, in order to be present in the legal proceedings against him.
Meanwhile, Noriega’s defense team said their client can not be tried in absentia, as the American Declaration of Human Rights, of which Panama is a signatory, prohibits trials in absentia. Rolando Rodríguez, one of Noriega’s lawyers, argued that Article 8 of said declaration states that no one can be tried in absentia, adding that the upcoming hearing on July 29 is not a preliminary one; rather a substantive proceeding.