A U.S. government delegation is in Europe seeking to unfreeze Manuel Noriega's bank accounts for use in his legal defense, a federal prosecutor said today.
The delegation consists of State Department and Justice Department officials who are visiting Austria and Switzerland, but most details of their visit are secret, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan.About $20 million is sitting in 27 Noriega-linked accounts, and U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler has ordered $6 million of those funds paid into a trust account to cover attorneys fees and expenses for the deposed Panamanian dictator, who says he has no other funds.
The delegation's visit is "to discuss the possibility of unfreezing the accounts that are being designated as the general's," Sullivan said. "the discussions are ongoing."
Until the funds are freed, the judge asked Noriega's defense counsel to take a temporary appointment as government-paid attorneys, but they did not immediately respond.