Justice for Florence Cassez – Human rights activists demand justice in Cassez case

Source: Proceso December 12, 2012

Activists, academics, human rights proponents have published a spread in several newspapers demanding justice in the case against Florence Cassez, who was detained, jailed and condemned to 60 years in prison.

“The accusations against her were based on indefensible proofs, logically and juridically speaking. Also, Florence Cassez was violated in her right to receive a due process, leaving her in a state of defenselessness and proofs were fabricated against her from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (AFI) and the Federal Agency for Public Safety (SSPF),” cites the published document.

The spread was published in several nationwide newspapers are was signed by: Mariclaire Acosta, Director of Freedom House; José Antonio Caballero, researcher, CIDE; Miguel Carbonel, from the Institute of Legal Research at UNAM; and human rights activists Eduardo Gallo, Santiago Corcuera y Javier Sicilia, among others.

“The 60 year sentence against Florence Cassez is not based on proofs or facts that show her culpability beyond all reasonable doubt. It is a real shame for Mexican justice that she continues to be imprisoned.
We urge our Supreme Court to dictate soon the resolution than will put this grave injustice to an end,” says the documents.


Pierre Lacour

Online petition to help find Olivier Tschumi, kidnapped in Mexico in 2010



Please visit by clicking here, firm and forward. Your support is important. It could happen to all of us.



(lorence Cassez Association for the Defense of Human Rights – Montreal (Canada)

Mexican justice says Cassez case decision coming in August

Fox News Latino

May 31, 2012

Mexican Supreme Court justice Olga Sanchez Cordero said in a television interview broadcast here Thursday that the case of Florence Cassez, a Frenchwoman convicted of kidnapping in Mexico, will be decided in August.

Sanchez Cordero also reiterated in her remarks to French news channel BFMTV that she believes Cassez’s rights were violated by Mexican authorities and that, as a consequence, she should be set free.

“The matter will surely be resolved before the second half of August,” the justice said.

On March 21, she was one of two Supreme Court justices who supported a motion to immediately free Cassez. The other three justices rejected the motion, although the five-judge panel found serious rights violations in her trial and called for the evidence in her case to be reviewed.

Cassez was arrested on Dec. 8, 2005, on the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway along with her boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, the suspected leader of the Los Zodiaco kidnapping gang.

A day later, agents from the now-defunct AFI, Mexico’s equivalent of the FBI, staged a mock raid so TV cameras could film the arrest of the gang members in a wooded area near Mexico City.

The motion presented to the high court in March stated that the delay in handing Cassez, now 37, over to prosecutors and informing the French Consulate of her arrest violated her rights.

The Frenchwoman has proclaimed her innocence from the beginning, denying that she participated in kidnappings, and the case has sparked tensions between Mexico and France.

Polls in Mexico, which suffers one of the world’s highest kidnapping rates, show most people want Cassez to remain in prison.

Parents of Frenchwoman Cassez confident Mexico will free her


By Elinor Comlay


Tue May 22, 2012

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The parents of a Frenchwoman imprisoned in Mexico for kidnapping said on Tuesday they are optimistic the Supreme Court will free her after reviewing the case that has caused a diplomatic rift between France and Mexico.

Florence Cassez, 37, has maintained she is innocent since her arrest in 2005, but the Mexican government has defended the conviction that sentenced her to 60 years in prison.

France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy backed Cassez’s fight to be freed and her parents said the Socialist party of his newly elected successor, Francois Hollande, has assured them he will work for her release.

In March, Mexico’s Supreme Court rejected a bid to release Cassez but opened the door to reviewing the evidence in her trial, which has given hope to her parents.

“We have great confidence in the Supreme Court,” Charlotte Cassez told Reuters in Mexico City, where she and her husband Bernard were visiting Florence and meeting her lawyers.

“The judges said they are in favor of a review of the case because her constitutional rights were violated.”

Florence Cassez was arrested in December 2005 at a ranch near Mexico City with her ex-boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, who was accused of heading a kidnapping gang called the Zodiacs.

After the arrest, police, instead of first taking her to a prosecutor or advising the French Consulate, forced Cassez to take part in a staged scene of officers freeing kidnap victims in a different location. The Frenchwoman was portrayed as a kidnapper in the restaged event, which was aired on national television. Police have since admitted their wrongdoing.

A judge convicted Cassez in 2008 after a closed-door trial with no jury, typical of cases in Mexico. Key evidence in her conviction was supplied by three kidnapping victims, one of whom said she had threatened to cut off his finger.

All but one of Mexico’s five Supreme Court judges in March picked holes in the legal process that convicted Cassez, but three of them voted against freeing her.

Nevertheless, Judge Olga Sanchez, who is in charge of reviewing the case, told a newspaper earlier this month she believed the Frenchwoman should be freed.

Florence and Bernard Cassez said they are also hopeful a change in Mexico’s government after presidential elections on July 1 could help bring about their daughter’s release.

Polls show the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is likely to oust President Felipe Calderon’s conservative National Action Party after 12 years in office. Calderon is barred by law from seeking a second term, and PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto is strong favorite to win the election.

“The current government put pressure on the courts … perhaps the next government will not do that,” said Charlotte Cassez.

Anti-crime groups in Mexico have opposed freeing Cassez, saying it would be an insult to the victims of kidnapping in a nation where many of the guilty go unpunished.

Mexico has one of the world’s highest rates of kidnapping.

Cassez is being held at a women’s prison in southern Mexico City where her parents visit daily when they are in Mexico.

Florence Cassez, the truth kidnapped (translation from Nexos : La Verdad Secuestrada)

Click here to access the translation of the breathtaking paper on Florence Cassez`s case by Nexos

Mexico judge proposes Florence Cassez release


March, 7th 2012 

Florence Cassez behind bars, file picture

A Mexican Supreme Court judge has said that Frenchwoman Florence Cassez, who is serving a 60-year sentence for kidnapping, should be released.

Judge Arturo Zaldivar argued that Ms Cassez, 37, had been denied her consular rights and the right to be presumed innocent.

His proposal for her “immediate and absolute” release will now be considered by a panel of five judges.

The case has caused diplomatic friction between Mexico and France.

Florence Cassez was arrested in 2005 at a ranch near Mexico City where three kidnapping victims had been held for two months.

Judge Zaldivar’s recommendation that she be freed is based on how she was treated after her arrest.

In a motion presented to the Supreme Court, he says police violated her rights by failing to notify the French consulate and failing to present her to investigative officials.

TV montageHe also notes that – the day after she was detained – police staged a re-enactment of her arrest and the rescue of the kidnap victims for the benefit of the media.

The footage was shown on Mexican television as if it were a genuine raid.

The judge argued that this montage created the impression that she was guilty and may have influenced the testimony against her from the police and kidnap victims.

It is not certain when the Supreme Court will hear her case, but her lawyer told the French AFP news agency/

Ms Cassez has always denied any knowledge or involvement in the kidnappings.

She maintains that her only connection with the case was that she was the girlfriend of one of the kidnappers.

In France, she is widely considered the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been among those questioning her conviction and calling for her to be returned home.

In 2010 a year of Mexican cultural events in France was cancelled after Mr Sarkozy suggested it be used to highlight her case.

The News Station – 16 wnep

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A Mexican Supreme Court judge has proposed freeing a French woman serving a 60-year prison sentence for kidnapping, though his motion needs the backing of at least two others on a five-member panel determining her fate.Judge Arturo Zaldivar said in his motion that Florence Cassez, 37, was denied her rights, not given a fair trial, and that witness statements used to convict her of kidnapping and other crimes in 2008 were unreliable.

The case has caused tension between France and Mexico.

Zaldivar’s motion centers on a filmed recreation showing police freeing kidnapping victims and arresting Cassez and others who were portrayed as members of a gang called the Zodiacs. The video was shot after her arrest in Mexico City in late 2005 and aired on television as a real raid.

Federal police said the Zodiacs were led by Cassez’s Mexican boyfriend at the time and that she was a member of the gang.

In his motion, Zaldivar also noted that Cassez was not offered consular assistance or put in front of a prosecutor immediately after the arrest.

“Consequently, the motion establishes there was a violation of the fundamental right of the presumption of innocence of Cassez,” the Supreme Court said in a statement. “A supposed recreation of things that never took place without doubt had an impact on public opinion and on all those linked to the trial.”

The case sparked a furor in France, where many see Cassez as a victim of injustice.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is seeking a second term in an April 22 election, has promised Cassez’s parents that

he will seek justice in the case and is asking Mexico to transfer her to a French prison. That request has been denied.

The five Mexican Supreme Court judges will vote on the motion within two weeks, an official at the court said. A vote of three judges will be enough to free Cassez.

“This motion gives us a ray of hope,” Cassez’s defense lawyer, Agustin Acosta, told Reuters. “The case is very clear. I am sure the court will free her.”

Some Mexican anti-crime activists have opposed her release, arguing that a message must be sent to kidnappers and France should not meddle with Mexico’s justice system.

Mexico has seen kidnappings for ransom, in which abductors often torture and mutilate victims, spiral out of control in recent years.

In 2011, Mexico canceled a year-long series of films and performances in France after Sarkozy said the events would be dedicated to Cassez.

Esmeralda Hernandez Jose

By Rebecca Roth, ex prisonner in paradise


My heart breaks a little every day:   Every day that my friend, Esmeralda Hernandez Jose spends in jail, stealing her youth from her.  I’ve known this special woman since 2006, when I began teaching her English while I, too, was jailed for something I didn’t do.  My nightmare ended two years ago this coming March 2012 and I am well into the healing process that the luxury of freedom allows.  But I don’t and can’t forget that someone I care about as a friend continues to languish in jail.

Esmeralda’s nightmare began just 3 months after she graduated university in Mexico City.  At 22, she and her sister met an older man at a disco and he told them a story about his frequent travel to Mexico City and that he didn’t like to dine alone.  To be young and careless shouldn’t be a crime, yet because of her few free dinners, she continues to await her fate after 6 years of incarceration.  Without going into detail for her own protection, I am certain that she is, like Florence Cassez, a victim of a broken legal system; a system that finds the answers without asking the questions.  Only in Esmeralda’s case, since she is Mexican, there is no government that could possibly intervene, since it is her own government who seeks to condemn her.  What a shame this bright woman with a degree in bio-chemical engineering remains isolated from making the contributions she could have made to society during these long years.  She has not been completely isolated, however, because since 2008, we have been making dolls together and we continue to do this even though she works on dolls and trains new women on how to make them from inside prison and I work on the dolls and find selling outlets on the outside.

It is hard for me to express in a few short lines how difficult it is to be hopeful, under the circumstances she faces.  If you have followed the case of Florence Cassez, another woman who I learned of while I was still incarcerated, then you may have an inkling of the stress for the individual and the amount of people it takes to be involved in fighting for your life.

Yet, I for one believe in miracles!  I am living proof that miracles do happen; I was arrested; two years later sentenced; one year later, lost my appeal and finally the legal process started over and within a week, I was released for lack of evidence.  I am asking for a miracle in the case of Florence Cassez, a vivacious and delightful woman I spent a day with when I travelled to Tepepàn a little over a year ago to deliver a message to her …never give up!  I’m asking for a miracle for Esmeralda, too, because she deserves to live a life outside of prison walls.

What do Florence Cassez and Esmeralda Hernandez Jose have in common?  They have both been accused of the politically and socially charged crime of kidnapping.   While Florence has been sentenced and lost her appeal, Esmeralda continues to this day un-sentenced after 6 years behind bars.  Florence’s miracle may be here soon and we can all celebrate her freedom, but what of Esmeralda?

If you would like to send Esmeralda a message of encouragement, you can send it to my email address:  Originalfriendsdolls@gmail.com.    Our website is http://www.prisondolls.com.   Let me know if you would like to become friends on facebook.

Florence Cassez:The Freedom of Innocence in Jail

January 13, 2012

Published in http://fearlessfathers.wordpress.com/

On Sunday January 8, 2012, I met Florence Cassez, the French women who has been sentenced to serve sixty years in prison by the Mexican justice for the crimes of  kidnapping and organized crime she did not commit.  As I was carrying the  grilled chicken Florence had asked me to bring for lunch, heading toward the Centro Feminil de Readaptacion Social (South of Mexico City) where she is incarcerated, I was still struggling with the thought that had started to bug me since Florence had accepted my request to visit her, three days before: I am no journalist, no lawyer, and therefore I could not be of much help to her.

I know I will not sleep much until she is freed, but I also know now she does not need my help that much. The first thing I found out last Sunday is that she has been helping herself amazingly well given what she has gone through. Before meeting her, I had in mind the image of Florence in shock during the AFI’s remake of her arrestation for the Mexican TV, on December 9 2005. The Florence Cassez I see after passing security, as I step into the large room where a crowd of inmates are meeting and eating with their visitors, has nothing to do with that.  She is a rather tall women with an intense and reflective gaze. She graciously introduces me to her two other visitors, among whom David Bertet, who manages the Canadian Committee in Support of Florence. I quickly discover she has guts. Indeed, as I am telling her I did not understand why the Mexican government  (Mexico is a signat0ry of the 1983 Strasbourg convention on the transfer of sentenced persons) has been dragging its feet to repatriate Florence to France while invoking the incompatibility of the French thirty-year maximum jail sentence with Florence’s, she brushes away this option. Repatriation? No Sir. She did not want that. Doing time in France meant acknowledging she was guilty. She is innocent. Florence wants the Cassez’s case to be cleared in Mexico. She is fully aware that if it were to happen, it would have wide implications for the working of the Mexican justice system, and for the lot of those Mexican whose rights are violated and who, like her, rot in jail thanks to flawed or made-up accusations of kidnapping.

As the discussion unfolds around lunch, I cannot but notice with immense pleasure that it is interrupted many times. Florence is not at all ostracized as I was fearing. On the contrary, she is a popular figure here. Folks want to chat with her. She keeps getting up, keeps leaving the table to check hands or hug people. David Bertet told me aside that her humility, her acceptance of the rules of the jail, has earned her the respect of the inmates and that of the prison’s authorities. According to Florence, it has not always been like that; President Sarkozy’s intervention with the Senate and the Mexican government was key to the inmates’change of mind about her. As they saw the French President himself pulling up his sleeves for Florence, people started to question the way most of the Mexican media had depicted her, as the sequestradora, the Francesa diabolica. I gladly admit I was off the mark in an earliercriticism of Sarkozy’s intervention on this blog. Yet I think that Florence is perhaps too modest. Her audacious resilience in claiming her innocence must have something to do with people’s empathy for her.

Frenchwoman jailed in Mexico rips press

Fox news

Nov 2011

Florence Cassez, a Frenchwoman convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to 60 years in prison in Mexico, said in an interview aired Sunday on French television that reports in the Mexican press alleging that she was involved in illegal activities in prison were “a baseless new set-up.”

“This is gossip from rags,” Cassez told France’s M6 television network, adding that if the allegations were valid the police would have charged her.

Asked about the origins of the articles, which alleged that the Frenchwoman was involved in, among other crimes, drug sales in the prison, Cassez said it “could be anybody” behind them.

Mexico’s Supreme Court agreed in March to review Cassez’s case, which has become a sore point in bilateral relations.

“It’s clear that they are willing to do anything” because they “did not like” the fact that the case reached the Supreme Court, Cassez said in response to a question about whether Mexican Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, who was head of the Federal Police at the time of her arrest, was involved.

Mexico’s Supreme Court justices “should study my file” and “take their time,” Cassez said.

The Frenchwoman, who asked the high court for a review of the Feb. 10 ruling by a lower court, said she was “cautiously hopeful” that the Supreme Court would rule in her favor, rating her expectations for a positive outcome at seven on a scale of one to 10.

Cassez, who turned 37 last Thursday, told M6 that she expected to prove her innocence and never expected to spend 60 years behind bars.

French officials continue working on the case, Cassez said, adding that everything changed once President Nicolas Sarkozy became involved in her defense.

Officials have asked the French Catholic Church to lobby the Mexican Catholic Church, which investigated the case, to help win Cassez’s freedom, M6 reported before airing the interview.

The Mexican Catholic Church’s investigation determined that failures in the justice system led to Cassez’s conviction.

Cassez contends that her rights were violated when she was arrested more than five years ago.

France and Mexico spent several weeks sparring over the Cassez case earlier this year.

Some French officials and Cassez’s family called for the cancellation of the “Year of Mexico,” a series of more than 350 art, cultural and business events scheduled to be held in France throughout the course of 2011.

Mexico said it would not participate in the celebration in the wake of Sarkozy’s announcement in February that the series of events would be dedicated to Cassez.

France has asked Mexico to repatriate Cassez so she can serve out her sentence in her homeland.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s administration has said the Frenchwoman – who received a 98-year prison sentence in 2008 that was subsequently reduced to 60 years – cannot be repatriated due to the possibility that Cassez could obtain a drastic reduction or suspension of her sentence if she were to be sent back to France.

Cassez was arrested on Dec. 8, 2005, on the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway along with her boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, the suspected leader of the Los Zodiaco kidnapping gang.

A day later, agents from the now-defunct AFI, Mexico’s equivalent of the FBI, staged a mock raid so TV cameras could film the arrest of the gang members in a wooded area near Mexico City.

Cassez’s defense team said witnesses changed their testimony and implicated the Frenchwoman in the abductions after it emerged that the raid shown on television was a re-enactment of the original police operation.

The Frenchwoman has proclaimed her innocence from the beginning, denying that she participated in kidnappings.