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Panama makes anniversary of U.S. invasion day of national mourning
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14:36, December 21, 2007

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Panama's legislature declared on Thursday Dec. 20, the anniversary of the 1989 U.S. invasion, as a day of national mourning.

This year marked the 18th anniversary of a U.S. military invasion of the Central American country, designed in part to oust former president Manuel Antonio Noriega, who ruled the country from 1983 to 1989.

Meanwhile, a "truth and reconciliation" commission was established to investigate how many people, civilians and servicemen alike, were killed in the invasion.

Government estimates put the death toll of Panamanians at 472 to 500, but human rights groups say more than 1,000 died. Some 25,000 U.S. troops were involved in the invasion and 23 were killed.

The measure, which requires a presidential approval, also proposes that a monument be set up to commemorate the victims.

Noriega, 73, was imprisoned in 1992 by a U.S. federal judge on drug racketeering charges.

His imprisonment ended on Sept. 9, but he remains in custody pending a ruling on his extradition to France, where he is wanted to face charges of money laundering.


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