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.

Translation

Pierre Lacour
fearlessfathers.wordpress.com

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WANTED NOTICE : Olivier Tschumi

 

Olivier Tschumi was born in Switzerland. He has been living in Mexico for the past 20 years. On the morning of December 19, 2010, Tschumi was kidnapped while he was jogging with his two dogs in a forest located in Cuernavaca. On December 21, abductors demanded a ransom, but Olivier was not freed. Since then, there has been no sign of Olivier or his abductors.   

Tschumi’s family still does not have any information about Olivier after 18 months of exploring several courses of action. His family is not sure whether an inquiry will be launched.

For Tschumi’s relatives, the Mexican authorities’ silence represents torture, and shows their incapability of continuing the investigation.

“There are days when we say Olivier is probably dead. The next day, we regain hope. Grieving our loss means admitting defeat. We need to continue pulling out all the stops until the truth is known,” Olivier’s sister confided.

Despite this confidence, however, things are at a standstill. Corruption in the Mexican police force is so widespread that moving forward is complicated. Recently, Mexico’s Assistant Attorney General’s Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime (SIEDO) welcomed one of Tschumi’s family relatives to present two major files related to Olivier, but no concrete information was provided.

Olivier’s mother is 80 years old. She made enormous efforts to find her youngest child. She stayed in Mexico for four months. She pestered police, Morelos’ prosecuting attorney, and Swiss diplomats deployed in Mexico. She even participated in two police searches in the forest without success.

Regular contact, ongoing pressure on authorities, private detectives, Mexican lawyers specialized in kidnapping, media coverage, help from humanitarian organizations, politicians, embassies, diplomats, and threats of hunger strikes have been many methods his mother has used to find her child. Nothing has worked out.

It has been over 18 months since Tschumi’s family steered between hopes and despair. Tschumi was kidnapped at dawn on December 19 while jogging with his two Irish Shepherds in a forest near his Cuernavaca home.

Tschumi’s abductors have called several times to negotiate the price of their hostage’s bail. They demanded $300,000, but had to lower their ambitions and accept a $10,000 ransom. This was paid on December 21, 2010. As requested, the money was divided into two bags and thrown above an expressway bridge. One of the abductors called to report that only one bag was received – a pretext to keep Tschumi hostage. Despite a fierce and daily battle, there has been no news of Tschumi.

Today, his family must continue fighting to avoid this case from falling into oblivion and keep the pressure on authorities to prevent the file from closing. Isolated and on their own, family members are looking for help. Nobody has heard their cries nor seen their tears.

Some Internet Links

Se busca Olivier Tschumi (secuestrado en Cuernavaca el 19 de diciembre del 2010)

Olivier Tschumi held hostage for seven months

One-minute clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEo1-YCVkA4&feature=share

 

TSR Documentary about Olivier’s abduction on Mise au point

Two program clips. The clip dedicated to Olivier begins at the 15th minute (in French only)

http://www.tsr.ch/emissions/mise-au-point/3163415-l-arnaque-du-bonneteau-disparition-au-mexique-interview-de-jacques-neyrinck.html

 

L’illustré, first article, January 2011 (in French only)

http://www.illustre.ch/Kidnapping-Olivier-Tschumi-Mexique-Cuernavaca_80674_.html

 

Article Links on Google

http://www.google.com/cse?cx=partner-pub-8478750947243235%3A6sftaw-vu7p&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=olivier+tschumi&sa=Search

 

Olivier’s Blog (in Spanish)

http://ayudanaencontraroliviertschumi.blogspot.com/

 

Facebook Support Group (in French only)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/penseraoliviertschumi/

 

 Translated  by Dwain Richardson (Montréal – Canada)

 canadiandellie300@gmail.com

 

Refugee claimant says Mexican justice crusader harassed her

By Nicholas Keung
Immigration Reporter

Source : The Star

To the world, Maria Isabel  Miranda de Wallace is a strong-willed mother and social activist who fought hard to bring justice to her kidnapped son in Mexico.

Her famous crusade to track down his abductors — and to shame Mexican police for their shoddy investigation — earned her a profile in the New York Times in 2006.

But to Braulia Guadalupe Rangel Gomez, de Wallace, who ran unsuccessfully for Mexico City mayor in July, is a bully who uses her popularity and influence to purge her critics and opponents.

Rangel, a mother of two, claims it is de Wallace she is fleeing from as she seeks refuge here in Canada.

“She (de Wallace) is a wolf in sheep’s skin,” said Rangel, 47, a divorcee who fled to Canada in 2008, claiming she and her family were targets of persecution. “She is acting like a hero in Mexico, but she is not what she says she is.”

While the two women, both from Mexico City, claim to be justice crusaders, they clashed following the 2005 kidnapping of de Wallace’s son, Hugo Alberto de Wallace, and the pursuit of Rangel’s niece, Brenda Quevedo Cruz, one of the accused in the abduction who is now in custody in Mexico.

As de Wallace played detective to trace the six alleged conspirators in her son’s apparent death, which led to their ultimate arrests, Rangel played the part of activist against the influence exerted by de Wallace on the judiciary in the probe against her niece, who maintains her innocence.

Rangel, a former real estate agent, claims she petitioned various Mexican authorities, including the office of then-president Felipe Calderon, to “expose the undue and improper influence” by de Wallace in the police investigation and torture of those who had been arrested.

In her refugee claim, Rangel said she and her two daughters, now 13 and 15, were followed by de Wallace’s associates and once hit by a car allegedly driven by her bodyguards.

In 2007, she said, she also started receiving threatening phone calls after she took her campaign to the media.

“In every corner, the police are the same and can be bribed and with money they will kill you,” said Rangel, who fled to Toronto with her daughters and nephew Omar Roberto (Brenda’s brother) in 2008.

Reached in Mexico, de Wallace said she had heard of Rangel’s name but did not know her or about her asylum claim in Canada at all.

“These are absolutely lies. I am just a regular citizen,” de Wallace told the Star through an interpreter. “I didn’t do anything that this woman said I did. I only care about bringing (her niece) Brenda to justice. I don’t care about her family. I have no power to do anything to her.”

The Immigration and Refugee Board rejected Rangel’s claim in 2009, saying that, “although not perfect, there is adequate state protection” in Mexico and “police corruption and (deficiencies), although existing and noted by the panel, are not generalized.”

Rangel’s lawyer, Jeremiah Eastman, has since submitted fresh evidence to prove torture was suffered by the client’s niece while in detention awaiting her trial.

According to the pre-removal risk assessment submitted by Eastman, Rangel’s niece was handcuffed and blindfolded by masked men, who tried to get a confession out of her.

“My client’s niece is still waiting to be tried and she’s been tortured within the (Mexican) judicial system,” said Eastman. “Clearly, my client doesn’t want to go back to such a system.”

However, in ruling that Rangel and her daughters would not be in danger if returned to Mexico, a Canadian immigration officer ruled most evidence only relates to the torture of the niece and the other suspects.

Rangel has failed to establish a direct link to the alleged torture of the niece or other suspects and de Wallace’s involvement in any torture or threats, said the risk assessment decision, issued last month.

Rangel has now asked for a judicial review of the pre-removal risk assessment decision. Meantime, a removal date for her has yet to be set.

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

Reuters

By Elinor Comlay

MEXICO CITY

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.

Senior Mexican judge says Frenchwoman Cassez should go free

kgmi.com

10 May 2012

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A Frenchwoman imprisoned for participating in a kidnapping ring in Mexico should be released, according to the Mexican judge in charge of reviewing a case that has caused a rift between the two nations, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

Judge Olga Sanchez is one of five Supreme Court judges weighing the case of Florence Cassez, 37, who was convicted in 2008 in a closed trial. Cassez was arrested by authorities with her ex-boyfriend on a ranch near Mexico City in 2005.

The Supreme Court, the nation’s highest court, in March rejected a proposal by one of Sanchez’s fellow judges to release Cassez, but it said the evidence needed to be re-assessed, leaving Sanchez in charge of tabling a new motion to resolve the sentencing.

“For me, as I said, and I don’t want to prejudice the case, she should be released,” Sanchez told the Excelsior newspaper in a report published on Thursday.

“This is what I think for many reasons,” she added. “And now that I’ve delved into the file, I have many more reasons.”

She did not give provide additional details.

Sanchez had voted for the Frenchwoman’s release in March, but the judges have said little since then. Her comments before the new motion has been announced are unusual in Mexico.

Three of the judges in March voted against freeing Cassez, but all but one picked holes in the legal process that convicted her, which involved a televised police recreation of her arrest which was heavily criticized.

Cassez was portrayed as a kidnapper in the restaged event, which was aired on national television as if it were a real event. Police have since admitted their wrongdoing.

At the trial, one of the kidnap victims testified Cassez had threatened to cut his finger off, but she denied the accusation.

The Mexican government has backed her conviction. Polls show a majority of Mexicans share that view.

Anti-crime groups have also 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.

Some leading intellectuals have called for Cassez’s release and say the case illustrates Mexico’s failed justice system.

(Reporting by Lorne Matalon; Editing by Paul Simao)

Brenda Cruz’ case : revelations on Isabel Miranda de Wallace

The Sordidness Behind the Wallace Case

Original spanish version

By Jorge Carrasco Araizaga

Proceso

 

Official documents and testimonies from the alleged suspects of the kidnapping and murder of Hugo Alberto Wallace Miranda accuse the virtual candidate of the PAN for the governorship of Mexico City, Isabel Miranda de Wallace, to have been involved into criminal activities, torture included, while seeking to resolve her son’s case. The stories of mothers, sisters, even uncles of persons incarcerated for that matter concur with the facts gathered into the legal files. Mrs Wallace is using  the power that her “friendship” with the president Calderón and Mexico City ex D.A. Miguel Mancera, grants her…

 

Barely one day after the disappearance of her son Hugo Alberto, Isabel Miranda de Wallace had already tracked down the place where she claimed her son was killed in a kidnapping attempt. In less than 24 hours she had found his car, found the apartment that she denounced as the place where the events took place; events that ultimately turned her into a public figure. She also had references on two people named as being in charge of the operation.

In the early morning of Tuesday July 12, 2005, Miranda had already denounced the disappearance of Hugo Alberto. She knew that an attractive woman known as Claudia was among the implicated, as well as a local policeman. What’s more, she handed a clue to the country’s Attorney General: They had to find Jacobo Tagle Dobin. She gave them his exact address. According to criminal investigation PGR/SIEDO/UEIS/146/2005, opened on the disappearance of Hugo Alberto Wallace Miranda, thanks to the statement of a nosy neighbor, hearing a boy that was in the building and based on an envelope that was sent by an anonymous person to her home with several emails, she began to reconstruct the circumstances surrounding what happened inside apartment 4 of 6 Perugino Street, South of Mexico City.

In little over two months, she knew the operation and members of the “gang of kidnappers”: Former Morelos policeman César Freyre Morales; dancer Juana Hilda González Lomelí, Claudia; shopkeeper Jacobo Tagle; his girlfriend Brenda Quevedo Cruz, y brothers Alberto and Tony Castillo Cruz.

For half a year the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime (SIEDO) lacked enough elements to bring them to the authorities. It was not until February 8, 2006 when it could present charges of kidnapping and murder based on an expanded statement of Juana Hilda, in which she allegedly detailed the participation of each member. Such a statement contradicted two previous ones in which she denied all charges. But she has not ratified it because it was taken without legal counseling, outside the place of her arrest and under coercion of members of the attorney general’s office Fermín Ubaldo Cruz and Braulio Robles Zúñiga, according to file number 180/2010 opened by Mexico’s Instituto Federal de la Defensoría Pública del Consejo de la Judicatura Federal.

The members of the ministry threatened to hurt her family, just as they had done with César Freyre’s mother and sister, who were jailed on charges of alleged extortion. According to the file, that statement included a confrontation, unsolicited by Juana Hilda, in which she supposedly asked Isabel Miranda for forgiveness.

Fermín Ubaldo and Braulio Robles are also identified by Enriqueta Cruz Gómez, mother of Brenda Quevedo Cruz: “By mid 2006 I was called to the SIEDO. Braulio introduced me to his boss, Fermín Ubaldo Cruz, who started to talk to me nicely, asking me to tell him exactly where was my daughter,” Enriqueta told Proceso.

Brenda had ran away to the United States. She was hiding when Isabel Miranda placed several billboards -she works in the industry- featuring Brenda’s photograph, accusing her of the kidnapping and disappearance of Hugo Alberto.

Enriqueta Cruz continues: “Obviously I didn’t tell him anything, but the man was growing desperate and began to bang on the table. ‘Speak, damn it!,’ he told her. “Just like you are sitting here, so have the mother and sister of César Freyre and I put them in jail,’ he told her. Enriqueta Cruz asked: “Why did you put them in jail?”. The minister was so desperate that he ordered for a sample of her hair and blood. “What for?” the woman asked. “For when we find your daughter dead, because we are going to find her dead,” he yelled.

Brenda Quevedo

Brenda Quevedo was extradited from the United States in September 2009. She arrived in a plane of The Office of the Mexican Attorney-General (PGR) also carrying Braulio Robles. Miranda was expecting her at the airport with a sign that asked: “What did you do with my son”? Before she was presented to the media, she offered her “legal benefits.” Brenda confronted her. She was moved to the Centro de Readaptación Social in Santiaguito, Almoloya, Estado de México. According to her testimony, narrated in a letter dated November 29th of that year, at about 7 am on Nov. 27th a guardian went to look for her for a supposed hearing. With the approval of the center’s director she was taken to a room.

She says that when she went in she saw three people facing the wall. They wore ski masks. They wore gloves. In desperation, Brenda began to yell. She said she was held by force. “You know who sent us here you bitch!” Crying, she replied: “Yes. It was Isabel Miranda de Wallace.”

“Now you are going to feel the exact same thing Hugo felt the day he was kidnapped,” she says she was told. Immediately, they put a plastic bag over her head, threw her to the floor, kicked her in the stomach, and hit her in the head.

From a small briefcase they took out a set of handcuffs, bandages, syringes, audio recorder, paper and pen and “a little machine that I assumed it was to give me electric shocks,” Brenda wrote. She was blindfolded. She says they pulled her by the hair and put the recorder on her face. One of the men said: “Now, you are going to tell us where Hugo’s body is. You are going to give us an address and we will take you out of this penitentiary. And if you give us false information, we are going to torture you until you are unrecognizable and we are going to go to each member of your family. Your brother is in Canada, right? Brenda says she was sexually assaulted.

According to her letter, they took out a syringe with a red substance. They told her it was HIV-infected blood. That they were going to inject her if she didn’t sign a confession in which she says she was responsible for the kidnapping. They would put a pen in her hand. After a while, after someone came knocking on the door, they packed up their things and left.

One year later, in another letter, dated November 2010, she talks about the torture she was subjected to on October 13th, five days after she was moved to the federal penitentiary of Islas Marías. Under the pretexts that they found some pills in her bed, she was taken to “the drunken one,” a special punishment cell.

Around 3:00 am on the 14th, two guards took her out of her cell and put her in a white pick-up truck driven by a man. Half an hour or 40 minutes into the road, in which she heard and saw the sea, they stopped at a place with lots of vegetation. They descended and left her in a small house under construction.

There was no light. Only an old sheet on the floor. She fell asleep there. Around 1:00 PM, through a window she saw a white Van with tinted windows. The door opened and five or six men wearing hoods walked in, they were wearing white shirts, jeans and black shoes. The first one to come forward asked her: “Now you are really screwed. Remember us? Now nobody will hear you here.”

Always according to her, Brenda was blindfolded and wrapped in the bed sheet with duct tape. They took off her socks and shoes; she was laid down and they started to throw water into her nose and mouth. They asked her if she didn’t feel bad that her mother had to suffer “for her fuckedupdness.” “We were going to kill her the day she was operated in her eyes, or maybe just make her go blind, but then we thought it’s really not her fault.”

With the humidity from the water, the bandage over her eyes moved and she distinguished the light brown eyes of one of her aggressors, she recognized one with a sturdy built and lots of body hair that sometimes would be on top of her.

They continued beating her. She was bleeding. “Now you know why we are here?” She replied: “For the kidnapping of Hugo.” One of them hit her so hard that she was left half deaf and told her: “From Mr. Hugo, to you.” They tied a wire around her right toe and threw more water at her. They were giving her electric shocks.

They took out a recorder. “You have to say that you took Hugo’s body to the apartment in Perugino, that you took out his body in bags and used your car to throw him out there. Say that you took photos of his body.” They would turn the recorder back on when Brenda repeated: “We left him in the aqueduct and several suitcases in a vacant lot.”

One of them told her: “You’d better not get back to that bullshit of human rights. Please realize we have all the power to come all the way to this place. We have a lot of power. You messed with the wrong people. This happens to you for bothering the señora, her husband and her family.”

One of the men told her: “You are going to ask to speak to the judge and you will say you regret everything you have done and that everything that Hilda has said and you are going to apologize to Mrs. Wallace.”

The same custodians that a day before had taken her to the special punishment cell took her there again. She left the next day, but was kept in confinement. It was almost a month before she could use the telephone and tell her mother was had happened.

Alberto and Tony Castillo

 

On October 12, 2010, a day before the alleged torture of Brenda, it was the turn of Alberto Castillo Cruz, accused, along with his brother Tony, of mutilating the body of Hugo Alberto. It happened at the Puente Grande penitentiary, which along with Islas Marías and other federal penitentiaries are under the charge of the Public Safety Minister Genaro García Luna.

Alberto had been beaten already on March 8, 2006, when he was detained near a Mexican landmark, the Monument to Revolution, very close to the SIEDO– by a couple of men dressed in black and wearing ski masks that accompanied Isabel Miranda.

The account of the alleged tortures on Alberto and the threats to his family members comes from their mother, María Elena Cruz Bustamante, who claims that since that date she was threatened to be killed along with her uncle Luis Carrillo Bustamante, if she didn’t say that he and those pointed by Miranda were behind the disappearance. “You would be better off if you had killed the son of the president. You will fear the power that Mrs. Wallace has.”

They asked him for his brother and his “cousin” Brenda Quevedo Cruz. “She is not my cousin. I have seen her somewhere, but she is not a friend,” replied Alberto, according to María Elena Cruz, who was interviewed by Proceso. “They took out a gun and continued with the threats. Two and a half hours later he was handed to the AFI,” the Federal Investigations office, which was then under García Luna.

On March 22, 2006 Tony was presented to SIEDO. He was arrested there. When Alberto and Tony made a statement before Braulio Robles, they said they were U.S. citizens and worked in Mexico for American companies. “Here you are in Mexico, so here you are fucked,” he told them.

They were arrested and after two months were sent to the Reclusorio Norte (Reno) where they were extorted for being “kidnappers and murderers.” One year and a half before their sentence, and without even telling their family, they were sent to a federal prison. Alberto went to Puente Grande. Tony to Matamoros. They were segregated during nine months.

Since mid 2006, when they were sent to Reno, the telephone threats to their families began. If they were to notify the U.S. embassy, they were going to kill their children inside the prison. To them, they told them the same thing. You know who this is coming from. “Three or four times a woman’s voice called me,” says the mom of the Castillo brothers.

“There were the same threats for years. They were quiet on their side. I was quiet on mine. We were afraid to be killed.” Alberto, who is about to turn 39, was sent to Puente Grande. There, says his mother, on October 12, 2010 he was tortured to sign his culpability. In exchange, he would be a “witness protected by Mrs. Wallace.” “I’d rather die,” he said.

As in Brenda’s case, says Mrs. Cruz, men wearing ski masks were the ones in charge. It was inside a room of Observation and Classification (COC) at Puente Grande. He was handcuffed. He was wrapped in a bed sheet and they began to hit him. To suffocate him they used water and plastic bags.

A man would squeeze his neck with a towel and cover his head with a bag, while another man, a short man, would hit him. To another man he describes as “hairy, sturdy, dark skinned.” It all happened in front of Robles Zúñiga, he told his family.

“You have to say you took part in it. You are going to do that in front of the judge,” he was told. The next day he was taken to the court. There -says Mrs. Cruz- there were Braulio Robles, Isabel Miranda and her brother Roberto, to whom he identified as one of the men who, waving a gun, arrested him in March 2006.

At the hearing Alberto denounced the torture. The following day the exact same thing happened to him. He was put again in the COC. “So, you were extremely stupid yesterday, right?”

María Elena Cruz continues: One of his torturers kept looking towards the door and up the ceiling. That is how he realized that Isabel Miranda and the director of Puente Grande, Francisco Javier Gómez Meza, were watching the torture. One week later, Gómez Meza was fired, accused of drug dealing. To prove this, Alberto requested the videos of the cameras inside the penitentiary. They didn’t give them to him. They said these were erased every 3 days.

Alberto then decided that his family should notify the U.S. Embassy, which has been assisting them since. Also Alberto, first through the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara and now through the one in Hermosillo, since last year was transferred to Guasave, Sinaloa.

Jacobo Tagle

 

Two months after the alleged torture of Brenda and Alberto, Jacobo Tagle Dobin was detained in the State of Mexico. He was the last of the six people indicated by Miranda. He was presented to the media on December 4, 2010.

In a letter, dated one day earlier in Cuautitlán Izcalli, he narrates the circumstances of his arrest: men wearing ski masks, dressed in black driving non-police vehicles, handcuffed him and put him inside a white van carrying other men wearing ski masks. His head was covered and after about a 40-minute drive, he estimates, one of the men told a woman. “I have your package. What do you want us to do with it, ma’am?” According to Tagle, the response was: “Torture him until he tells you where my son is.”

The van drove another 15 minutes. When it stopped, he was blindfolded and they took off his socks and shoes. They covered his head with a plastic bag. He felt someone sitting on his lap and another one was squeezing him. He was naked from the waist up; his ankles and arms with bandages. They repeated the operation.

They threw water on his face. He was being suffocated. He heard someone saying: “If you see his nails go purple, let me know.” Again, they covered his nose and mouth, threw water, beat him on the ears, pushed his stomach.

They started the van again. “Now, let’s go to the attorney’s office. You have to admit everything.”

There, “a white-haired man, I think it was the boss, told me that Mrs. Wallace was going to come in and if I didn’t cooperate they would beat the shit out of me again… a short man went in, wearing jeans and a checkered shirt. They took out a gun, prepared it for shooting, and pointed at my head.”

The threats continued. “You’d better cooperate or you will die. I have been looking for you everywhere and you are going to pay. I know exactly where your mother Raquel lives as well as your sister Judith and we have nailed down your brother Salomón.”

Says Jacobo: “The short man left and came back with Mrs. Wallace, her daughter and nephew and two other men. Mrs. Wallace put herself on the other side of the desk and told me I was going to die, that they were going to hurt my family and put my brother (also accused of kidnapping) in jail.”

She asked him to put César Freyre, Hilda, Brenda and the brothers Castillo in jail forever, “because she was a personal friend of President Calderón, of the Attorney General and of Miguel Mancera (Mexico City’s attorney general) and of many more politicians.

They asked him to repeat what they said. He says that her nephew, whom he doesn’t identify by name, recorded his statement while her daughter was typing in a laptop. “They didn’t even let me make a phone call and made me sign all these documents that I didn’t even have a chance to read. We went towards Cuemanco and the señora told me that she was going to show me the place where her son was supposedly abandoned.

“They took me in a van and she was in a Cherokee, with a lot of escorts and a policeman. In Cuemanco I was moved to the Cherokee and Mrs. Wallace told me: “We are going to stop and you are going to walk. Where you see the entrance of a house, you say that it is there. You will go in and you will see to piles of sand and you will say that that was where you dumped my son’s body.”

“From there I went to the attorney’s office and in the morning I was taken to Toluca.” There on December 4 he was presented to the media. At that time, Isabel Miranda asked him to pull up his shirt to show that he had not been beaten up.

In his statement of December 14 of that year at a high security prison in Nayarit, he ratified that he had been tortured.

In that statement it is also found that Jacobo Table “also wishes to add that Mrs. Isabel Miranda made it very clear that he shouldn’t try to be against her or refuse to declare anything because very soon she would have a job in politics and even more power enough to finish up his entire family.”

Tagle, 32, is imprisoned since last October in a high security prison at Villa aldama, in Perote, Veracruz.

César Freyre

César Freyre Morales, a former policeman from the state of Morelos and identified by Miranda as the gang’s ringleader, was also tortured to plead guilty, says his mother María Rosa Morales Ibarra, who was imprisoned and charged with extortion by Luis Saucedo, to whom she identifies as driver and assistant of Miranda.

She spent one year and a half in jail, along with her daughter Julieta, who was accused by Saucedo. They were detained June 8, 2006 when they went to SIEDO to see Freyre, who had been detained three months earlier. Morales says that the then head of the Subprocuraduría, José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, would pressure her to tell them the location of the safety houses and bank accounts of her son.

The three were arrested. César was transferred to La Palma, and the women went to Santa Martha. There they spend one year and nine months without ever proving the charges against them. They were freed on bail when their crime was reclassified and no longer deemed a federal crime. Julieta, 40, died October 2, 2009 from a brain hemorrhage upon leaving prison.

Says Morales: “After five years, he had to sign a statement. He was pressured hard. They almost killed him. They just extirpated a few blood clots he had as a result of being put many times inside water bags. One of his testicles became smaller as a result of the electric shocks he received. But they insist in handing them the body.” Freyre answers: “How am I going to hand them something that I don’t even know it exists?

Mexico rights group seeks Florence Cassez release

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

BBC NEWS

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

MEXICAN JUDGE SEEKS TO FREE JAILED FRENCH WOMAN
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.