Although the government recorded jailhouse telephone conversations between Manuel Noriega and his attorneys, the recordings did not threaten the deposed Panamanian dictator's chances for a fair trial, a prosecutor testified Friday.
Michael "Pat" Sullivan, chief prosecutor in the drug-trafficking case against Noriega, testified during a hearing on a defense motion to dismiss charges against the former strongman.In other court action, U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler set a June 24 trial date for Noriega, telling attorneys, "You should be ready by then." He also set a Feb. 18 trial date for Noriega co-defendants William Saldarriaga and Brian Alden Davidow.
Defense attorneys claim prosecutors have denied Noriega the chance for a fair trial by recording telephone conversations with his lawyers and then reviewing the discussions to help build the government's case.
During 90 minutes of testimony, Sullivan said he believed Noriega knew his phone calls were monitored including those to his defense team and therefore they were not protected as attorney-client privilege.
"The MCC (Metropolitan Correctional Center where Noriega is being held without bail) routinely tapes all outgoing calls and advises inmates," Sullivan said.