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Filipino witness surprises panel probing Aquino case

A Philippine Airlines technician came out of hiding Tuesday to testify that opposition leader Benigno Aquino was not shot by the killer named by the military.

Ground engineer Ramon Balang told a special session of an inquiry into the Aquino assassination that the alleged assassin, Rolando Galman, ''was just standing there, smiling'' when Aquino was shot to death at Manila airport on Aug. 21. Mr. Balang's evidence was the second surprise for the Aquino inquiry since the weekend, when another Manila airport maintenance-crew member said it would have been impossible for Galman to shoot the former senator because at the time of the shooting ''somebody inside a parked van was holding him by the wrist.''

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