June 25, 2015 / 2:42 AM / 2 years ago

Ex-Panama dictator Noriega asks for forgiveness

Panama's former dictator Manuel Noriega is seen on a television screen in Panama City June 24, 2015.Carlos Jasso

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Former dictator Manuel Noriega on Wednesday asked Panama to forgive the military leaders that ruled the Central American country for two decades before their eventual overthrow after a U.S. military invasion in 1989.

The octogenarian, who has been in prison for 26 years and still faces several charges of human rights abuses during his six years in power, said he wanted to "close the cycle of the military era".

"I am asking for forgiveness from all the people who were offended, affected, hurt or humiliated by my actions or those of my superiors in compliance with orders, or those of my subordinates," he said in a prepared statement to a local television station.

A U.S. military invasion in 1989 ended Noriega's rule and brought him to the United States where he was convicted in 1992 on drug and racketeering charges and served a prison sentence until 2010.

Noriega was then extradited to France to serve a separate sentence on money laundering charges. He returned to Panama in 2011, where he remains in jail for crimes committed during his rule.

Reporting by Elida Moreno; Editing by Michael Perry

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