Manuel Noriega has been allowed to move from prison to house arrest in order to undergo an operation for a non-malignant brain tumor, his lawyer said on Monday.

The Supreme Court allowed the house arrest after hearing recommendations from Manuel Noriega’s doctor, attorney Ezra Angel said on Monday (23 January).

According to reports, the former dictator needs to undergo a brain tumor surgery. His doctor Eduardo Reyes said the tumor was detected several years ago and “has grown pretty rapidly during the time Noriega was here in Panama”.

He added that removing the tumor was necessary to avoid “convulsions and even cardio-respiratory arrest.” However, no date has been scheduled yet for the operation.

Earlier in October, Noriega was given permission to prepare for and recuperate from the procedure at a public hospital rather than prison.

But his lawyer argued that the ex-strongman should be allowed to recover at home as neither hospital nor the prison was adequate for the patient.

The 82-year-old was a military dictator of Panama for six years, and was a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) until a US invasion ousted him in 1989. He spent around 20 years in a US prison for drug-trafficking and money-laundering before being released in 2007. The ex-strongman was kept at a French prison for four years.

In 2011, Noriega was granted a conditional release and has since returned to Panama where he faces charges for murder, corruption and embezzlement. He was convicted of the crimes carried out during his rule in absentia.

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