France - Mexico

Florence Cassez protests her innocence on return to France from Mexico

Reuters/Thomas Samson

Florence Cassez, the Frenchwoman released after seven years in a Mexican jail, continued to protest her innocence of the kidnapping charges that made her a hate figure in Mexico’s media on her return to France Thursday.


After a press conference at Paris’s Charles De Gaulle airport, Cassez made a star appearance on the evening news of France’s most popular TV channel, TF1, where she explained in detail how she head the news that she would be freed.

Mexico’s Supreme Court set her free largely because it was revealed that police had restaged her arrest for the TV cameras, along with other charges of misconduct.

But Cassez took the decision as a declaration of her innocence and said she would campaign for other victims of miscarriages of justice in Mexico.

“Putting the real guilty people in prison is the way to help the victims,” she told TF1.

Earlier her lawyer, Frank Berton, told reporters, “The Supreme Court has just said this woman is innocent and she is”, although one of the judges had specified that “we are not analysing whether the defendant is guilty or innocent”.

The court ruled that Cassez’s rights had been violated and the fallout from that decision may be far-reaching.

Newly elected Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Thursday that “in this case as in many others, errors and breaches of procedure prevent legal authorities to determine a person’s innocence or guilt”.

Officials in Mexico have suggested that there might be an inquiry into who was responsible for the misconduct ion the Cassez affair, RFI’s Patick John Buffe reports from Mexico City.

The man behind the restaging of the arrest was Genaro Garcia Luna, who was head of the federal investigation agency at the time.

But there is no certainty that he will come under the judicial spotlight. Garcia Luna went on to become public security minister under previous president Felipe Calderon and “probably in possession of sensitive information that he would enable him to negotiate politically for impunity”, Buffe comments.

As a former president, Calderon already enjoys immunity from prosecution.

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