Some of the key moments from Peña Nieto’s first 100 days in office have included: the Victims Law, the arrest of Elba Esther Gordillo, Florence Cassez’s release, the announcement of a new security strategy, among others.
In a surprising climax to a case that has strained Franco-Mexican relations for years, Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of Florence Cassez, a young French woman serving a 60-year sentence for her involvement with a Mexican kidnapping ring.
Cassez, 38, was arrested in 2005 along with her Mexican boyfriend, whom authorities said was the head of a kidnapping group called the Zodiacs. Although Cassez lived in a compound where victims were held, she maintained that she had committed no crimes.
Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a bid to release a Frenchwoman serving a 60-year sentence for kidnapping, but it opened a door to a retrial on the grounds her rights were violated before her conviction.
A five-judge panel discussed a motion to free Florence Cassez, arrested in 2005 by federal officers at a ranch near Mexico City with her ex-boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, who they accused of heading a kidnapping gang called the Zodiacs. Three of the judges rejected immediately freeing the 37-year-old Cassez, whose case has caused a diplomatic dispute between Mexico and France. But a majority said infringements of her rights and police misconduct meant her case could need to be reheard or a new sentence passed.
“We need to establish that the responsible authority, without taking into account the specific factors corrupted by procedural infringement, re-evaluates the evidence,” said Judge Jose Cossio, who voted against Cassez being granted her freedom.
Los Angeles Times, 3/20/12
Six years after French national Florence Cassez was sent off to serve decades in a Mexican prison for her alleged role in a kidnapping ring, her case is once again stirring heated debate here and abroad.
A member of the Mexican Supreme Court has recommended Cassez be freed because of irregularities in the handling of her prosecution, most notably the fact that federal police staged a replay of her arrest for TV cameras. The court’s five-member “first chamber” must now debate and vote on the recommendation, a process expected to begin Wednesday.
The case has long strained relations between Mexico, where a kidnapping epidemic has left little room for sympathy for an alleged abductor, and France, where Cassez is seen as someone whose rights were trampled.
The Voice of America, 3/8/12
The French leader was quoted Thursday as saying, the decision to overturn Florence Cassez’s sentence was “the first good news in five and half years.”
The judge said in his ruling, Cassez was denied immediate access to an attorney, and was not presented before prosecutors in due time following her arrest in 2005.
The New York Times, 4/8/2009
Three years ago, morning news programs here broadcast the arrest of a Frenchwoman and her Mexican boyfriend in a police raid that rescued three kidnapping victims from the ranch the couple shared.
The woman, Florence Cassez, was convicted of kidnapping and other crimes and was eventually sentenced to 60 years in jail. Case closed, it would seem.
But through it all, Ms. Cassez, 34, has maintained her innocence. Her boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, who confessed, said she knew nothing. And the television images of police officers storming the ranch? The raid turned out to have been staged the day after the couple was arrested and the hostages released.
“In a general climate of impunity, society becomes very conservative,” said Guillermo Zepeda, a security expert at the Center of Research for Development, a Mexico City policy group. “They want the few cases that are resolved to be exemplary.”