Florence Cassez's Release May Change How Mexico's Police Operate

Eduardo Gallo, a prominent human rights activist hoped that the Cassez case would shed some light on such violations of suspect´s rights and discourage police from committing further abuses.

"We don´t want people to be accused of a crime with evidence that is not properly gathered," he said after the judges handed out their sentence in Mexico City. "We cannot permit police to act improperly when they conduct an investigation."

Still, kidnapping victims felt betrayed by Mexico´s Supreme Court. They argued that despite the flawed procedures of police and prosecutors, there was enough evidence in this case to demonstrate that Cassez was involved in the kidnappings, including the fact that her boyfriend, Israel Vallarta had confessed that he was part of the Los Zodiacos kidnapper´s gang.

"I am Mexican, but I must say, this country is real garbage," said Ezequiel Elizalde, one of the three kidnapping victims rescued by police at the farmhouse where Florence Cassez's re-enacted arrest took place. "The institutions and the courts in this country are pure filth."

Miranda de Wallace, the head of a kidnapping victims group called Alto al Secuestro, said that the court´s ruling showed that in Mexico, where nine out of 10 crimes go unpunished, the concerns of victims "do not count."

"Today it is clear that what matters here is money, power and relationships," she said on Milenio TV, reminding viewers that the French government had pushed for Cassez's freedom.

Wallace was referring to France's frosty attitude toward Mexico after Mexico's government refused to transfer Cassez to a prison in France to serve out her sentence. There were also threats to bring some of Mexico's top officials before the International Criminal Court in The Hague for their role in this case.

However Sandoval said that the evidence against Cassez was always spotty. He pointed out that police even backtracked on the location of her arrest, saying first that they detained her in a farmhouse where three kidnapping victims were held, but then stating in documents sent to the supreme court that they caught Cassez a few kilometers from that site, on the Mexico City to Cuernavaca road. Sandoval said that Mexican citizens should direct their frustration at policemen and prosecutors, who did a lousy job with the case, fabricated evidence, and broke procedures that would have given Cassez a fair trial.

"The problem is that there is no convincing evidence to prove that she is definitely guilty. But what there is, is clear proof that her rights (to a fair trial) were violated," Sandoval said.

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