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Report Defends Police Who Fired Tear Gas During Bush Fracas

June 19, 1992

PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) _ A government report defends riot police who fired tear gas during an anti- U.S. protest that forced President Bush to leave a downtown square.

However, authorities said Thursday that four lower-level police officers were suspended on charges of ″failing to exercise leadership″ in properly disbanding about 1,000 demonstrators during last week’s protest.

Justice Minister Juan Chevalier, in releasing the report at a news conference Thursday, cast blame for the chaos on ″malcontents, henchmen and members of the disbanded Defense Forces″ of former dictator Manuel Noriega.

He said police responded in an appropriate manner, contending that the first tear gas grenade was thrown from the crowd of demonstrators.

Bush and his wife, Barbara, were unharmed in the incident June 11, but televised scenes of the president being hustled off downtown Plaza Porras amid tear gas and chaos proved a major embarrassment to both countries.

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