Accused French kidnapper freed from Mexican jail


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The Independent Online

A Frenchwoman who spent seven years in prison in Mexico on kidnapping charges has returned to a hero’s welcome in Paris.

Florence Cassez – whose arrest, trial and 60-year prison sentence made her a cause célèbre in France – was freed because of flaws in her trial, bringing to a close a case that had strained relations between the countries.

Ms Cassez, 38, was arrested in 2005 and convicted of helping her Mexican then-boyfriend run a kidnapping gang. She denied the charges. The Supreme Court panel voted 3-2 to release her because of procedural and rights violations.

Anti-crime activists in Mexico, however, had opposed the ruling to free her. The widow of one kidnap victim showed up on Wednesday as reporters gathered outside the Mexico City prison where Ms Cassez had been held. Michelle Valadez said her husband, Ignacio, was kidnapped and held for three months by Ms Cassez’s boyfriend’s gang in 2005. “We paid the ransom, but they killed him anyway,” she said.