Florence Cassez after being freed from prison

A French national has been freed after after a Mexican court overturned her 60-year sentence for belonging to a kidnapping gang, due to failings such as the police staging a fake arrest for the media.

Supreme Court judges voted to free 38-year-old Florence Cassez, who has been held in a Mexican prison since her arrested in 2005 for aiding a kidnapping ring called the Zodiacs, run by her Mexican boyfriend, reported the Associated Press.

The judges quashed the verdict due to a series of procedural irregularites and violations of Cassez's rights, including police forcing her to take part in a staged recreation of her arrest for the media, which included images of supposed kidnap victims being freed, and holding her without consular assistance. However, the court did not rule on whether she was guilty of the charges.

In France, Cassez's friends and family, along with the media and politicians, have long campaigned for her release, and the case had become a source of diplomatic tension between France and Mexico. In contrast, in Mexico, the ruling was greeted with dismay by people who had been kidnapped by the group, and relatives of victims.

Cassez admited she had lived in the ranch outside Mexico City where the gang held their victims, but denied any role in the kidnapping.

The original trial included the testimony of three victims of the gang, one of whom claimed Cassez had threatened to cut off his finger, France24 reported. However, the judge who paved the way for her relase by ordering a review of the case in May declared that some of the testimony should be discounted as it was contradictory, and possibly influenced by the police's staged recreation.

Insight Crime Analysis

Cassez's case demonstrates the failures of Mexico's historically corrupt justice system, which saw a 90 percent impunity rate for all crimes under the government of Felipe Calderon, according to the United Nations.

Cases often flounder due to irregular arrests and investigations, or corruption. In a high-profile case last year, the former mayor of Tijuana, Jorge Hank Rhon, was freed after it was revealed the army had manipulated evidence against him.

However, Cassez's release may reinforce the sense that crimes such as kidnapping are not punished in Mexico, which has one of the worst kidnapping rates in the world -- an average of 72 a day in 2012, according to non-governmental organization the Council for Law and Human Rights (Consejo para la Ley y los Derechos Humanos - CLDH).

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions of ...

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

 Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

Well-armed vigilantes in Mexico's Michoacan state have helped authorities dismantle a powerful criminal organization, but now the government may have a more difficult task: keeping Michoacan safe from the vigilantes and rival criminal groups.

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

After the lower house passed the controversial marijuana bill July 31, Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug, and provide a model for countries looking for alternatives to the world’s dominant drug policy paradigm. ...

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

Whether it is sustainable or not, the truce -- which the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 put into place March 2012 -- has changed the conventional thinking about who the gangs are and what is the best way to handle the most difficult law and order ...

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Since the end of El Salvador's civil war, the country's police has become a key player in the underworld. This series of five articles explore the dark ties between criminal organizations and the government's foremost crime fighting institution.

Juarez after the War

Juarez after the War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality. InSight Crime looks at the role politicians, police, and for-hire street gangs played in the fighting -- asking who ...