Court proceedings began Monday against former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega and eight others in the 1989 slayings of army officers who tried and failed to overthrow him.
Noriega, deposed in a 1989 U.S. invasion, is already serving a 40-year sentence in a Miami federal prison on drug-related and other U.S. charges. In the Panama case, he faces up to 43 years for homicide and torture.
Noriega has denied he ordered the execution of the officers who tried to overthrow him.
“I was not in control,” he said in a past deposition in Florida. “And I had no idea who was for me or against me.”
During the Oct. 3, 1989, coup attempt, forces led by Maj. Moises Giroldi, chief of Noriega’s security company in the Defense Forces headquarters, captured Noriega. Noriega negotiated with his captors, and eventually loyalist forces attacked the headquarters, forcing the rebels to surrender.