- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2007

A federal appeals court judge yesterday denied a motion by former U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean that they be released from prison pending appeals in their convictions for shooting a drug-smuggling suspect.

Ramos, 37, and Compean, 28, were sentenced to 11- and 12-year prison terms for shooting Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila in the buttocks as he fled near Fabens, Texas, back into Mexico after abandoning 743 pounds of marijuana.

They sought release pending the outcome of their appeals, but the motion was denied by U.S. District Judge Fortunato Pedro “Pete” Benavides of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in Austin, Texas, who said the men “had not shown unique or unusual circumstances that justify their release based on an exceptional reason.”

Judge Benavides granted a motion by Ramos that his appeal be sealed and ordered the government’s response to both men’s motions sealed.

Ramos was assaulted Feb. 3 by fellow inmates at the Federal Correctional Complex in Yazoo City, Miss.

He and Compean surrendered to federal authorities Jan. 17 to begin their prison sentences. Compean is being held at the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton, Ohio.

Several members of Congress, led by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, have called for President Bush to pardon the agents. Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, said the assault on Ramos “clearly demonstrates” the severe risk involved with incorporating Border Patrol agents into general prison populations.

Last month, Mr. Hunter said he had been assured the agents would be removed from the general population and that close attention was being paid to their personal safety. He called on Mr. Bush to fire Bureau of Prisons Director Harley Lappin “should it be ascertained that the proper precautions were not taken.”

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