A Panamanian court is opening a new case against former strongman Manuel Noriega for his alleged role in the death and disappearance and death of an activist in 1970, officials said Tuesday.
Noriega, currently held in the United States and awaiting extradition to France, is accused of having overseen the arrest of leftist activist Heliodoro Portugal by the military when he commanded the Panamanian Defense Forces, the successor to the National Guard.
Portugal's body was found in September 1999 - more than 29 years after his arrest - near former military barracks close to Tocumen International Airport.
District Attorney Argentina Barrera said an initial hearing was scheduled for July 7 in Panama City.
"Noriega would be happy to face trial in his country because he wants to come and die in Panama," his lawyer Julio Berrios told AFP.
The US Supreme Court threw out a bid last month by Noriega to halt his extradition to France, where he is wanted on money-laundering charges, closing the last legal avenue for the former military strongman to challenge his extradition.
Noriega was overthrown and captured during the US invasion of the central American nation in 1989, dubbed Operation Just Cause.
In 2009, the government of former president Martin Torrijos publicly recognized the harm cause to Portugal's family, in accordance with a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
The court had ordered Panama to pay Portugal's family 190,000 dollars in compensation for their loss.