Frenchwoman freed from Mexico jail sues ex-president, others

AP News
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Posted: Jan 26, 2015 5:44 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Frenchwoman who became a cause celebre in her country after she was jailed for kidnapping in Mexico is suing a former Mexican president, other ex-officials and a major TV network, her lawyer said Monday.

Jose Patino Hurtado, Florence Cassez's attorney in Mexico, told Noticias MVS radio that the civil suit filed Friday seeks $36 million for suffering and "moral damage."

The lawsuit seeks "above all to vindicate Florence Cassez, which is the most important thing," Patino said in an interview with Noticias MVS host Carmen Aristegui.

It names ex-President Felipe Calderon, former Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna and other officials, as well as the Televisa TV network and journalists including the prominent anchor Carlos Loret de Mola.

Televisa did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Calderon called the lawsuit "absurd" in an interview with journalist Joaquin Lopez Doriga on Radio Formula.

Cassez was arrested in 2005 and sentenced to 60 years on charges of aiding a kidnapping ring allegedly led by her Mexican boyfriend, in a case that soured relations between Paris and Mexico City.

She acknowledged living with the boyfriend at a ranch where kidnap victims were being held, but professed her innocence, saying she was unaware of their presence. One victim identified her as a kidnapper, but by voice only rather than by sight.

In January 2013 the Supreme Court overturned Cassez's conviction due to procedural and rights violations. Police had paraded the newly arrested suspected before the media and forced her to participate in a reenactment of her capture that was then broadcast on television.

"They knew the damage they would cause, and they prefabricated everything," Hurtado said Monday.

After Cassez's release, the Interior Department said it would instruct Federal Police to read suspects their rights when they are detained.

She returned to a hero's welcome in France, but many in Mexico were indignant that a woman they believed to be a kidnapper had gone free.

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Peter Orsi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Peter_Orsi