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01/23/2013

The strange case of Florence Cassez

Mexico France Kidnapp_Nost
A couple of hours ago, Mexico’s Supreme Court accepted an appeal from Florence Cassez, a Frenchwoman, to free her from prison.

Parts of the court hearing were carried live on television, a sign of how the case had become a lightning rod in Mexico. Cassez, 38, spent the past seven years in jail, accused of being part of the Zodiacos kidnapping gang.

The imminent freeing of Cassez enraged those kidnapped by the Zodiacos, and victims’ rights advocates, too. One of the sign-carrying protesters is seen in the AP photo above. The sign reads: “Freedom for soldiers, not for Florence Cassez.”

Mexico France Kidnapp_Nost-1A Milenio television reporter interviewed a former kidnap victim, Ezequiel Elizalde, who was held for 60 days, and he sputtered in anger earlier today.

“I’m a Mexican but this is a rubbish of an institution,” he said of the high court. “In the United States, a kidnapper would get the death sentence.”

Cassez was arrested in 2005 at a ranch outside Mexico City where several abductees were found. Her former boyfriend, a Mexican, was involved in the kidnappings but she denied knowledge.

The investigation into her case was riddled with irregularities leading up to her conviction and subsequent 60-year sentence. It led to a diplomatic crisis between Mexico and France in 2011, when then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy sought to dedicate a "Year of Mexico" cultural event to Cassez. Mexico cancelled the event in anger. I wrote about it at the time.

French Prime Minister Francois Hollande hailed the court ruling: "France thanks all those who, in Mexico as well as here at home, have fought so that truth and justice prevail.”

The case has been an embarrassment to many, including TV journalists who tailed police on what they said was live coverage of the 2005 raid on the gang’s hideout. In fact, it was a re-enactment designed to burnish the image of the police.

"I did not realize that this was a sham,” Carlos Loret de Mola, one of Televisa’s star broadcasters, said this week.

One of the wisest pronouncements today came from Luis Gonzalez Plascencia, head of the capital’s human rights commission.

“We’ll never know if Florence is guilty or innocent,” he said.

Without that knowledge, victims say they have reason to be angry.

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Disappointed in Mexico

Its a shame that the police in mexico had to stage a fake arrest. its a shame that florence cassez was let off after only 7 years. Its a shame that she received a hero's welcome in france after holding a child hostage and being identified by that same child. If she didn't do it, it must have been another woman with a french accent that happened to be part of that gang ..

Pink Schnoid

clambo, slumming in Mexico is fun, plus, you know there are lots of French here as well as French offspring and they have been here for 150 years...and remember Breton's famous quote about the surrealism of Mexico...

clamboslice

The oddest thing to me and no one has asked: Why does a Frenchwoman go slumming down in Mexico to shack up with gangsters?
I always thought the French had good taste. I stand corrected.
She "went native" and liked the thrills of crime in a land of daytime hallucination. I have lived in Mexico.

james

Not only is this article very superficial, it also contains some basic mistakes...
Francois Hollande isn't French prime minister but President

pink schnoid

I think one of the high ranking Mexican officials had a French ex wife who was going to blow the whistle on the PRI, so this French woman's release was expediated

Scott S di Vincenzo

That's what the French & American Liberals do - they embrace UN dictators, celebrate personal shame and harbor sworn enemies of Western order.

Abril Astrid

Its really bad, because this woman was recognized by victims, and her criminal gang, and now this woman is a celebrity... the french government received with honors,, like a heroe, but she is a criminal.

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Tim

This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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