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White House reviewing Idaho soldier’s case

Associated Press

IDAHO FALLS – The White House has confirmed that President Bush is considering a request that an eastern Idaho soldier convicted of killing an unarmed Iraqi receive a pardon, the soldier’s father says.

Curtis Carnahan said he received a letter from the White House last week.

“Please know that your views on this matter will be seriously considered,” it said.

Sgt. Evan Vela, a 24-year-old U.S. Army sniper, was convicted in February and sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing an unarmed Iraqi civilian who stumbled upon him and five other soldiers sleeping on May 11, 2007.

Vela also was convicted of planting an AK-47 rifle on the dead man’s body and of lying to military investigators. Vela is serving his prison sentence at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Leavenworth, Kan.

Carnahan has mounted a campaign to get his son pardoned, recently sending 235 letters to the White House asking Bush to set aside Vela’s conviction.

“We’re still hopeful he’ll do something,” Carnahan said.

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, both Idaho Republicans, last month sent letters to Bush asking him to pardon Vela.

Carnahan said the letter he received also noted there are other ways for his son to be released. One of them, he said, is for his son to be granted clemency.

Carnahan, who lives in the eastern Idaho town of Parker, said Vela’s case will automatically move to the military appellate court.

“We’re not going to stop until someone lets him go,” Carnahan said.

A pardon is an official act of forgiveness that removes civil liabilities stemming from a criminal conviction. A commutation reduces or eliminates a person’s sentence.

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