Mexico: Florence Cassez, Guilty of Kidnapping or Victim of a Staged Process?

A great fuss has taken over the cyberspace after the French citizen Florence Cassez was released from a Mexican prision where she stayed seven years charged with kidnapping, illegal gun possession and organized crime. A thorough revision of the due process of her case by the Supreme Court revealed enough doubts of her participation in the crimes that she was accused of and demonstrated that Florence was caught in the middle of a situation where, on one side, there was a police department that needed validation, two ex-presidents with conflicting interests: Calderon (Mexico) y Sarkozi (France), and the people craving for justice.

The author from blog de La_Morsa [es] published last year:

Parte de la dificultad empieza con el montaje que hiciese García Luna, el Secretario de Seguridad Pública del actual gobierno federal, que armó una especie de operativo en donde la banda de secuestradores era sorprendida en una casa de seguridad, logrando rescatar a todas las víctimas sanas y salvas. El asunto es que había periodistas y cámaras presentes y todo fue una farsa. Ya los habían agarrado y no se les ocurrió mejor idea que montar toda esta escenografía para demostrar a los medios la eficiencia de la policía.

Florence Cassez. Photo widely shared over the Internet on several forums.

Part of the mess starts with the staged arrest Garcia Luna, current Secretary of Public Security in the federal government, put together, where he showed a sort of operation where a gang of kidnappers was surprised in a security house and all the victims were rescued safe and sound. The thing is that there were reporters and cameras present and everything turned out to be fake. They were already arrested and they came up with the great idea of setting up a scene to demonstrate the police efficiency to the media.

Opinions among netizens vary from the ones who are outraged by the liberation of the French woman denouncing that the authorities are putting the rights of the accused over the rights of the victims; to the ones who support the decision given the irregularities of the process which lead to reasonable doubts over Florence Cassez's guilt. The case, above all, exposed to the world the shortcomings of the Mexican justice system and media manipulation and has always been full of controversies.

Those who argue in favor of the release quote, among many articles, the publication made by the magazine Proceso on March 13th, 2012 where they summarize 25 reasons to free Florence Cassez [es]. Some of them are:

Porque la escenificación de su arresto, ordenada por Genaro García Luna, violó la presunción de inocencia. Se le convirtió así en presunta culpable.

Porque en la primera declaración de las víctimas Christian Ramírez y Cristina Ríos Valladares no reconocieron a Florence Cassez físicamente ni su voz. Cristina Ríos agregó que los oficiales de la AFI [Agencia Federal de Investigación] le informaron que Florence Cassez había participado en el secuestro.

Porque se obtuvo la primera declaración de Florence Cassez sin que ella hubiera podido comunicarse con algún funcionario consular de su país violando así la Convención de Viena.

Because the staged arrest, ordered by Genaro Garcia Luna, violated the presumption of innocence. She was turned into a presumed guilty.

Because on the first declarations made by the victims Christian Ramirez and Cristina Rios Vallladares, they didn't recognize Florence Cassez physically nor her voice. Cristina Rios added that officers from the AFI [Federal Agency of Investigation] informed her that Florence Cassez had participated in her kidnapping.

Because the first declaration of Florence Cassez was taken before she could contact any officer from her country's consulate, thus it was in violation of the Vienna Convention.

Some netizens questioned the exception made with Cassez considering all other dubious cases out there. Like the organization Iluminemos México [es] (Light up Mexico) (@iluminemos) [es]:

@iluminemos: Los actualmente presos en las cárceles mexicanas tuvieron debidos procesos? O se le dio trato preferencial a #Cassez?

@iluminemos: Do current prisioners in Mexican jails had due processes? Or was #Cassez given preferred treatment?

Journalist and producer Epigmenio Ibarra (@epigmenioibarra) [es] proposed to review the guilt allocation:

@epigmenioibarra: Si #Cassez es liberada entonces el productor de montajes televisivos Genaro Garcia Luna debe ir a la carcel. No creen?

@epigmenioibarra: If #Cassez is set free, then the television stage producer Genaro Garcia Luna should go to jail, don't you think?

On the other hand, Mexican activist Claudia (@ClauVillegasm) stated:

@ClauVillegasm: En este país los perros matan,mutilan y violan y los secuestradores quedan libres. Y los liberan xq no respetaron sus derechos #casocassez

@ClauVillegasm: In this country the dogs kill, mutilate and rape and kidnappers are set free. And they are freed because their rights were not respected. #casocassez [case Cassez]

Meanwhile, Twitter user Rodimiro Trollotzin (@Dios_Tollotzin) [es] asked:

@Dios_Tollotzin: ¿si un mexican@ secuestra y mutila en Francia, lo dejarian libre por solo irregularidades en su proceso? #CasoCassez#cassez

@Dios_Tollotzin: if a Mexican kidnaps and mutilates in France, will he/she be released only because their process had irregularities? #CasoCassez #cassez

Journalist Fernanda Familiar (@qtf) [es] talked about the victims’ point of view on the decision:

@qtf: Liberar a #Cassez… Nadie habla de las víctimas, del trauma, de la huella que dejo en sus vidas, !Eso es criminal! Igual que ella.

@qtf: They free #Cassez… nobody talks about the victims, their trauma, the scars she left on their lives. That is criminal! Like her.

Monica Garza (@monicagarzag) [es], like many Twitter users, was outraged:

@monicagarzag: A mi,imaginar a la secuestradora Florence Cassez comodamente sentada en un avión volando hacia Francia, me llena de indignación y vergüenza.

@monicagarzag: To me, imagining kidnapper Florence Cassez comfortably sitted in a plane flying to France fills me with indignation and shame

Others, like columnist Julio Hernandez L. (@julioastillero) [es] talked about how the justice system changed its mind as the new president took office.

@julioastillero: En un país bananero, en semanas la Corte cambia diametralmente su postura en un caso (Cassez) conforme cambian gobernantes

@julioastillero: In a banana republic, it only takes weeks for the Court to drastically change its stand in a case (Cassez) as rulers change.

And some dare to guess a possible deal between the new governments in France and Mexico, like Diego Ayala (@elcincocuatro) [es]:

@elcincocuatro: #Cassez a todas luces era culpable, sale porque le montaron un show y porque EPN quiere quedar bien con Francia, vive le France

@elcincocuatro: #Cassez is obviously guilty, she was set free because they staged a show and because EPN wants to be in a good standing with France, vive le France

Communcation specialist Alberto Velarde (@alberto_velarde) concluded:

@alberto_velarde: #OpinoEnLaJornada La resolución de la #SCJN no va sobre si #Cassez es culpable o no; va sobre la inmundicia de proceso que hizo la autoridad

@alberto_velarde: #OpinoEnLaJornada (Opinion in La Jornada) The resolution of the #SCJN (Supreme Court) is not about #Cassez culpability or not; it's on the filthy process the authority made

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