January 28, 2009

Compean, Ramos Pardon Sought

The two former U.S. Border Patrol agents whose sentences were recently commuted by former President Bush are set to be released in late March.

But some Texas representatives, activists and the agents' families may soon be pushing for President Barack Obama to pardon Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean entirely.

"It is good that President Bush has commuted their sentence," said Congressman Ted Poe, R-Texas, during a House address Jan. 21. "We hope to press further with the new president, President Obama, and get a complete pardon for these two individuals."

The agents, once released, will still be convicted felons if not given a pardon or a chance to exonerate themselves.

Poe and other representatives "are advocating that Obama pardon them and release them earlier," said Robin Hvidston of the Minuteman Project. "It's also the beginning of a fight to clear their names. They are planning on going forward to appeal and clear their names."

CNN recently reported the Mexican government's disapproval of Bush's decision.

"You see right away, the Mexican government, in its self-righteous indignation, disapproves of the commutation of Ramos and Compean," Poe said in the address. "Obviously, if the Mexican government is opposed to it, President Bush did the right thing."

The Mexican government was also reported to have significant involvement in the case.

"The big thing everybody is jumping on now is that we know that there was involvement by the Mexican government at the highest levels looking into their case and influencing their case behind the scene," said Andy Ramirez, chairman of Friends of the Border Patrol. "Which means that they were trying to keep them in prison."

Chronology of border shooting of drug suspect

A chronology in the case of former Border Patrol agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, whose lengthy prison sentences for shooting a fleeing drug smuggler were commuted earlier this month by then President Bush:

- February 2005: Compean and Ramos shoot at Aldrete during a chase in which agents suspect they have come upon a drug transaction. Aldrete is shot in the rear as he flees to Mexico.

- March 2006: Compean and Ramos are convicted on several counts of assault, weapons offenses, obstruction of justice and a civil rights offense. Border Patrol officials say both agents will be fired.

- October 2006: Compean is sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, Ramos 11 years and one day.

- February 2007: Ramos' relatives and U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado say Ramos was beaten in prison after his case was described in an episode of "America's Most Wanted."

- July 2007: The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing regarding the convictions. Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas says the shooting's cover-up was inexcusable but that the president should review their excessive sentences. The U.S. House votes to block the Bureau of Prisons from holding Compean and Ramos.

- November 2007: Aldrete is charged with smuggling marijuana in separate incidents several months after the shooting.

- April 2008: Aldrete pleads guilty to two counts of possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, and one count each of conspiracy to import a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

- July 2008: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upholds most of the convictions, but the ruling forces resentencing hearings.

- August 2008: Aldrete is sentenced to 9 1/2 years in federal prison on the drug smuggling charges.

- November 2008: Compean and Ramos are formally resentenced to their original federal prison terms.

- January 2009: Bush commutes the sentences, days after all but three of the 34 Texans in Congress sent Bush a signed letter asking for leniency.

The Associated Press

No comments: