PANAMA CITY — Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who was toppled by a 1989 American invasion and later convicted of drug running, was transferred from a prison to a hospital on Sunday because of extreme hypertension, health officials said.
Health Minister Franklin Vergara said Noriega's blood pressure was very high, nearly leading to a stroke. After the former military strongman arrived at the hospital, doctors saw signs of a possible brain hemorrhage.
Further X-rays and evaluations yielded normal results, Vergara said. He said doctors did not immediately find "any injury with long-term effects."
Noriega, 77, will stay in intensive care for 24 hours, he said.
Noriega, who ruled Panama from 1983 to 1989, spent about 20 years in U.S. and French prisons after drug-trafficking and money-laundering convictions before returning to Panama on Dec. 11, 2011. In Panama, he had been convicted in absentia on murder, embezzlement and corruption charges that carried a combined 60-year prison sentence.