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THE WEEK AHEAD

DAVID : Power and Murder

July 06, 1993

A judicial proceeding that promises to revive some of the most controversial events in recent Panamanian history begins today.

Gen. Manuel A. Noriega, the deposed Panamanian strongman, is being tried in absentia for the 1985 murder of Hugo Spadafora, a prominent government opponent who had accused Noriega of trafficking in weapons and drugs and of plotting the plane-crash death of populist dictator Gen. Omar Torrijos in 1981.

Spadafora's body was later found in a mail sack in the jungles of Costa Rica just over Panama's border. He was last seen being escorted by soldiers from a bus he was riding.

Noriega, serving a 40-year sentence in the United States for drug trafficking, will be tried with 10 military men in the Panamanian city of David.

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