Panama’s former dictator, Manuel Antonio Noriega has converted to Christianity and is ready to apologize to the Panamanian people says a missionary evangelist.
The Rev. Jorge Raschke, one of the few people able to visit the former strongman since he was extradited from France last December, made the statement on the web site “Cry of God”. He gave permission to La Prensa to publish the information
The Puerto Rican missionary evangelist, ,said he has visited Noriega in El Renacer prison and the Santo Tomas hospital.
He said that the conversation occurred at Santo Yomas in May, after Noriegsm wasm admitted for hypertension problems, colds and bronchitis.
The pastor of the Pentecostal Assembly of God church said he had the testimony of Noriega's conversion to Christianity.
"I took the opportunity to emphasize that confirmation of his conversion would be his willingness to forgive and apologize to the Panamanian people, and anyone who was offended and hurt during his government," Raschke said on its Web site Facebook.
He also indicated that Noriega told him that "My life is over, now I started, it could be an instrument of the Lord to bring the feet of Christ to millions of people, with written and spoken testimony."
He added that the "General thanked me for my friendship of many years”.
"I want to join in prayer for him, his family, and staff of The Rebirth," said the missionary.
Raschke met Noriega in 1982, when he visited him in the late Central Barracks, headquarters of theb defunct Defense Forces.
A second meeting between Raschke and Noriega took place when the former dictator was being held in prison in Homestead, Miami, serving a sentence for drug trafficking after being ousted by the U.S. military in December 1989.
Noriega, 78, has bren in El Renacer prison since December 2011, after being extradited by the French authorities to face convictions against him for the murder of doctor Hugo Spadafora (1985) and Giroldi Moses (1989).
The former dictator has two appeals on trial in the courts of Chiriqui for the murders of Clayton Everett Kimble, who died in 1968, and Luis Quiros, who died in 1969.
In addition, the Second Court of Justice is pending the hearing of the murder of political leader Heliodoro Portugal, who died in 1970.
Meanwhile, members of the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared Hector Gallego said Noriega should reveal the whereabouts of the disappeared during the dictatorship.
Maritza Master, spokeswoman for the organization, said that Noriega handled the intelligence agency (G-2) and retains much information.
"Repentance is a step, but the purpose of amendment is the truth of what happened during the dictatorship. If this is not true, repentance isno good, " he said
"We are not moved by the spirit of revenge, we just want to know the truth," he said.