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Murder suspect steps down

September 02, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

The head of Panama's National Assembly, wanted in the United States on murder charges, stepped down from his leadership position.

U.S. congressional leaders have refused to ratify a free trade pact with Panama while Pedro Miguel Gonzalez, accused by Washington of shooting a U.S. soldier in 1992, remained leader of the legislature.

Army Sgt. Zac Hernandez, 22, was gunned down outside Panama City hours before the arrival of President George H.W. Bush, the first visit by a U.S. head of state since the 1989 U.S. invasion to topple Panama's Gen. Manuel Noriega.

Gonzalez, who remains a member of the legislature after stepping down at the end of his term as president of the assembly, was acquitted of the charges by a Panamanian court and has denied killing Hernandez.

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