Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • Photos: Youths clash with police at banned Gaza protest in Paris

    Read more

  • Limited Gaza truce extended until midnight

    Read more

  • Bodies of all Air Algérie crash victims to be brought to France

    Read more

  • Germany's Tony Martin wins 20th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • US evacuates embassy in Libya amid militia clashes

    Read more

  • Kerry in Paris for new round of Gaza ceasefire talks

    Read more

  • Nibali rides serenely toward a place in Tour history

    Read more

  • Video: 'Lack of security' at MH17 crash site, FRANCE 24 reports

    Read more

  • In pictures: Devastation, debris at Air Algérie crash site

    Read more

  • Washington Post reporter and his wife arrested in Iran

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Fans electrify the mood as Tour de France crosses the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

Americas

Conviction overturned, Cassez on way to France

© AFP (Archives)

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-01-24

Freed French woman Florence Cassez was on her way back to France on Thursday, after Mexico’s Supreme Court overturned her 2008 conviction on kidnapping charges and ordered her immediate release. Cassez had been serving a 60-year prison sentence.

A French woman who spent seven years in a Mexican prison on kidnapping charges is flying back to Paris on Thursday after Mexico’s Supreme Court ordered her released due to flaws in her trial, bringing to a close a case that had strained relations between the two countries.

Florence Cassez’s arrest, trial and 60-year prison sentence made her a cause célèbre in France, where two consecutive presidents called for her release. Anti-crime activists in Mexico vigorously opposed the Wednesday decision to free her.
 
Cassez’s flight left Mexico City’s international airport at 9:25 p.m. local time (03:25 GMT) and was expected to arrive in Paris about 10 hours later.
 
Relatives of kidnap victims angrily shouted “Killer!” as a police convoy with sirens flashing escorted a sports utility vehicle out of the Mexico City prison where Cassez had been held.

Federal officers arrested Cassez, 38, in 2005 at a ranch near Mexico City with her former boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, whom they accused of heading a kidnapping gang called the Zodiacs.

© Cassez, in a photo released by her parents.

After the arrest, police made Cassez take part in a staged scene of officers freeing kidnap victims. She was portrayed as a kidnapper in the restaged event, which was aired on national television. Police subsequently admitted wrongdoing.

A judge convicted her in 2008 after a closed-door trial with no jury, which is typical of most cases in Mexico.

Maintained her innocence

Cassez maintained her innocence throughout her almost eight years of incarceration.

“The judges decided she simply wasn’t given a fair trial and that she should be released immediately,” said FRANCE 24’s International Affairs Editor Cyril Vanier.

“The assumption that she was innocent until proven guilty wasn’t respected, she hadn’t been allowed to contact the French consulate, some of the testimony was faked and even her arrest was faked, staged for cameras a year after the event.”

In March, Mexico’s Supreme Court rejected a bid to release Cassez immediately, but opened the door to the review.

The prospect of her release before Wednesday’s ruling stirred resentment among kidnapping victims in Mexico, where thousands of serious crimes go unpunished by Mexico’s weak justice system.

But on the other side of the Atlantic in France, where the case has been closely followed, news of her release was welcomed in all quarters.

‘Joy’ in France

As the ruling was announced, Cassez’s mother Charlotte “exploded with joy” at the news her daughter would not have to serve out the 60-year jail term.

“I still can’t believe it, this decision is absolutely fabulous,” she told BFM TV. “The suspense has been huge. I’m exploding with joy, laughing and crying.”

French President François Hollande said on Wednesday night that with the Supreme Court’s decision, “a particularly painful time had come to an end”.

In a statement, Hollande thanked “all those, in Mexico and here in France, who fought so that truth and justice could prevail.”

(FRANCE 24 with wires

Date created : 2013-01-23

  • MEXICO - FRANCE

    Mexico to review case of jailed French woman Cassez

    Read more

  • MEXICO - FRANCE

    Mexican court rejects Florence Cassez's appeal

    Read more

  • MEXICO - FRANCE

    Justice to argue rights of jailed French woman may have been violated

    Read more

COMMENT(S)