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Noriega hit with civil suit from Panama

The government of Panama filed a $6.5-billion civil suit Wednesday against its former military ruler, accusing Manuel Noriega of looting the nation's treasury and torturing and killing his opponents. "We have long waited for justice, and justice is beginning to happen here," said Eduardo Vallarino, Panama's ambassador to the United States. "We have a duty to the people of all the world to show that dictatorship and tyranny doesn't ultimately pay."

The Panamanian government's civil racketeering suit contains 11 charges against Noriega for alleged misconduct during his 28-year career.

The lawsuit outlines cases of Noriega's alleged participation in assassination, torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, embezzlement, detouring of funds, illegal sale of visas and passports, abuse of authority and abuse of duty.

Panama's attorney Gregory Craig said Noriega was being served with a copy of the suit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center southwest of Miami, where he has been held on drug-trafficking charges since the December 1989 invasion of Panama.