PANAMA CITY, JUNE 8 -- A former Panamanian military commander accused armed forces chief Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega today of involvement in electoral fraud and the ousting in 1985 of then-president Nicolas Ardito Barletta.
Col. Roberto Diaz Herrera, 49, chief of the general staff until his retirement last week on what the military called health grounds, was also quoted as saying Noriega was involved in the killing of government critic Hugo Spadafora in September 1985.
Military spokesman Maj. Edgardo Lopez described Diaz as incoherent and said he was suffering from "a serious state of paranoia."
In an interview at his home, patrolled by armed guards, Diaz insisted he was in perfect health and said he wanted to bring those responsible for illegal acts to justice.
"I have the responsibility and I have already made confessions so that Noriega will go to jail," Diaz said. He said he had acted for Noriega in rigging presidential elections in 1984, which were won by Barletta. "I can give all the details of the fraud because it took place in my own home," he said.
Diaz said he also acted for Noriega in persuading Barletta to step down after he later fell from favor with the military, the traditional power behind the scenes in Panama. Barletta said at the time of his resignation that the alternative could have been a military coup.
Winston Spadafora, brother of the government opponent whose beheaded body was dumped over the border in Costa Rica, also met Diaz this morning. Spadafora said Diaz was one of three responsible for the murder.