Frenchwoman Freed From Mexico Prison After Outcry

Florence Cassez had been sentenced for kidnapping

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 24, 2013 4:50 AM CST

(Newser) – A Frenchwoman whose 60-year Mexican prison sentence caused international controversy was released from jail yesterday. Florence Cassez was sentenced in 2005 for her role in a kidnapping gang after television showed her arrest as three victims were freed. But the segment was staged by police: In fact, she'd been arrested the day before, the New York Times reports. Magistrates voted 3-2 to release Cassez, saying the staged arrest had violated her rights. They didn't, however, say whether she was guilty of the crime.

Cassez yesterday flew back to France, where she's been a cause célèbre, having received visits and gifts in prison from the likes of Carla Bruni. French media painted her as innocent, blaming a flawed Mexican justice system, the Times notes. The case caused tensions between the two countries; but now, "we can say that between France and Mexico we have the best relations that can be established," said French president François Hollande. But Mexican activists question the release. "Should a failure in the form leave aside the substance: if a person is guilty or not?" asked one.

In this Dec. 9, 2005 file photo, Florence Cassez is shown to the press during a police reenactment for the media of her arrest, a day after her detainment, on the outskirts of Mexico City.   (AP Photo, File)
A police officer stands guard outside a prison where Frenchwoman Florence Cassez had been held in Mexico City, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
In this Dec. 2005 file photo, Florence Cassez looks out from behind bars at a federal prison in Mexico City. A Mexican Supreme Court panel voted Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, to release Cassez.   (AP Photo, File)
An Air France plane, allegedly carrying French citizen Florence Cassez, prepares to depart in Mexico City, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013.   (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
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