Deposed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega has forsaken his interest in the occult and become a born-again Christian, a Baptist publication says.

The Florida Baptist Witness cites a letter from Noriega to two Texas evangelists in which he says, "I received Jesus Christ as my Savior the 15th of May of 1990 at 11 a.m. in a small room, like unto a cave, at Metropolitan Correctional Center of Dade County, Fla."The two evangelists, Clift Brannon and Rudy Hernandez, were with Noriega, who is awaiting trial in Miami on drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges, that day and subsequently requested the statement of faith.

They said that about 90 minutes into the meeting, they led Noriega in a prayer of confession and commitment to Jesus Christ.

Noriega wants to be baptized by immersion in accordance with the Baptist faith - possibly in a small lake on the MCC grounds - but so far prison officials have not been able to arrange the ceremony.