Mexico's top court orders Frenchwoman's release

Frenchwoman free after police fake video
Frenchwoman free after police fake video


    Frenchwoman free after police fake video


Frenchwoman free after police fake video 02:21

Story highlights

  • France's president praises the Mexican high court's decision
  • Mexico's Supreme Court orders Florence Cassez freed
  • Case has drawn attention in Mexico and increased diplomatic tensions with France
  • Cassez denies the charges and argues police staged her arrest for TV cameras

Mexico's Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release of a Frenchwoman who had been sentenced to 60 years in prison for her alleged role in a kidnapping ring.

The high-profile case of Florence Cassez has drawn national attention in Mexico and increased diplomatic tensions with France.

Cassez was convicted on kidnapping charges in 2008 and sentenced to 60 years in prison, but Wednesday's 3-2 Supreme Court decision overturned that ruling and ordered her release.

She was expected to depart Mexico for France Wednesday night, CNN affiliates reported.

One justice had proposed that a lower court reconsider its sentence against Cassez, calling witness testimony identifying Cassez as a kidnapper invalid. But ultimately, the court ruled that there were so many significant irregularities during Cassez's detention and trial that she should be released from prison immediately.

Accused kidnapper to be released
Accused kidnapper to be released


    Accused kidnapper to be released


Accused kidnapper to be released 01:57

"These violations of the human rights of Florence Cassez are so serious that they create a corrupting effect in the entire process that makes it impossible for the Supreme Court to validate this process, this detention, all of these violations," said Arturo Zaldivar, one of the justices.

Mexican authorities arrested Cassez and her boyfriend in 2005. They accused her of being part of the Zodiaco criminal gang and participating in at least three kidnappings.

Cassez has argued that she did not know about her boyfriend's activities in the gang, disputed the testimony of witnesses who identified her and emphasized that Mexican police staged her arrest for television cameras.

On Wednesday, Cassez's lawyer said his client was "very excited" about the ruling.

"It is a historic decision and a precedent in the defense of human rights," attorney Agustin Acosta said.

But a well-known anti-crime advocate in Mexico criticized the high court's decision.

"It seems to me that this opens the door to impunity and leaves the victims empty-handed," said Isabel Miranda de Wallace, president of a prominent Mexican anti-kidnapping group.

For years, French officials have pushed for Cassez's release and asked Mexico's Supreme Court to consider the case.

French President Francois Hollande praised the court ruling.

"The thoughts of the head of state go to Florence Cassez, her family and those close to her," Hollande's office said in a statement. "For them, as for all of those who have mobilized for our compatriot, this is a particularly painful period that has come to an end."

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault released a statement expressing his "deep solidarity" with Cassez "and everyone who helped her in her fight for truth and justice."

"He welcomes the prospect of seeing Florence Cassez return to France as soon as possible," the statement said.

      CNN Recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      North Korea nuclear dream video

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photos: Faces of the world

      Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      How to fix a soccer match

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.