Judicial authorities have requested the extradition of Gen. Manuel Noriega to stand trial in Panama for murdering the leader of an attempted coup against the former Panamanian ruler.

Noriega, in a Miami prison facing trial on U.S. drug trafficking charges, is sought in Panama in the murder of Maj. Moises Giroldi, government prosecutor Danilo Montenegro told a news conference Monday."The district attorney asked the Foreign Ministry for his extradition," said Attorney General Rogelio Cruz. It wasn't known whether the request had yet been conveyed to the United States.

Noriega's defense attorney in Miami is seeking to have the drug charges dropped on the grounds that secret taping of attorney-client conversations and a dispute over Noriega's legal fees have ruined Noriega's chances of a fair trial.

Giroldi led an aborted uprising against Noriega in October 1989, two months before the United States invaded Panama and ousted the former dictator.

Prosecutor Nelson Rovetto said Giroldi, who surrendered after the coup failed, was among nine men executed on Oct. 3 and 4, 1989, near Albrook Field, a U.S. air station in downtown Panama City.

Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., said later that he had received reports Noriega personally executed Giroldi.

Cruz said at least seven Noriega allies, agents of the defunct Panama Defense Forces, are also implicated in the killings.

Panama also filed a $6.5 billion racketeering lawsuit against Noriega in Miami U.S. District Court last month.

The lawsuit says Noriega participated in assassination, torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, embezzlement, sale of visas and passports and other abuses while he was head of the Defense Forces.


(Additional information)

Possible evidence?

The Justice Department says that documents Cable News Network wants returned may become evidence in the investigation of the leak of Manuel Noriega's taped prison telephone calls.

The court filing by the department on Monday did not say how the 15 documents might be such evidence.

The documents include a list of telephone numbers apparently compiled by CNN reporter Marlene Fernandez, the Justice Department said.

CNN's Nov. 8 broadcast about Noriega's conversations with his attorneys and others from a federal prison near Miami triggered a legal dispute over the network's right to air the tapes.

The Supreme Court last month upheld a federal judge's temporary order barring CNN from airing any tapes of conversations between the deposed Panamanian dictator and his lawyers pending a court review of the material.

Last week, the temporary ban was lifted by William M. Hoeveler, the judge presiding over Noriega's drug conspiracy case in Miami.