Judge calls for parole of ex-Panther

June 7, 2009 at 6:55 PM
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ATLANTA, June 7 (UPI) -- A U.S. judge says a convicted killer with past ties to the Black Panthers should be paroled immediately, saying the Bush administration had tainted his case.

A final report on the case of Veronza Bowers said then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had intervened in the case for political reasons to keep Bowers in prison despite recommendations by the federal Parole Commission examiners and staff that he be released.

U.S. Magistrate Susan Cole recommended Bowers be paroled immediately without a new hearing, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said Sunday. The 63-year-old inmate has served more than 34 years for the death of a federal park ranger near San Francisco in the 1970s.

Cole wrote in her report that Gonzales and other White House officials intervened with the Parole Commission even though they did not have the legal authority to influence the panel's actions.

"The taint on the Commission's decision-making could not be eradicated simply by an order from this Court directing the Commission to grant (Bowers) a new parole hearing," the report said.

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