* Supreme Court set to rule on case on Jan. 23
* Lawyer confident that key evidence will be thrown out
* Ruling could call for retrial
MEXICO CITY, Jan 11 Mexico's Supreme Court this
month will review the case of a Frenchwoman imprisoned for
kidnapping, and her lawyer is confident a ruling could pave the
way for her eventual release.
The panel of five Supreme Court judges is set to issue a
ruling on Jan. 23 in the case of Florence Cassez, who was
convicted in 2008 of participating in a kidnapping ring and
sentenced to 60 years.
Agustin Acosta, the lawyer, said the judges are likely to
rule that testimony used to convict Cassez was tainted and call
for a re-trial by a lower court.
"If it turns out like this, there is no case, no proof
against Florence Cassez. It will be handed to a lower court and
the judge will have to absolve her," Acosta said in an interview
on Friday. "We are confident that ... Florence will get her
In March, Mexico's Supreme Court rejected a bid to release
Cassez immediately, but it opened the door to reviewing the
evidence in her trial.
The Supreme Court panel will now rule on a motion by Judge
Olga Sanchez, who in May said there were "many reasons" to
Cassez, 38, has maintained her innocence. She 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 forced Cassez to take part in a
staged scene of officers freeing kidnap victims. She was
portrayed as a kidnapper in the restaged event, which was aired
on national television. Police have since admitted their
Her defense has argued that testimony against her was
tainted by the television report that depicted her as a
One of the judges most opposed to freeing Cassez in March
has since retired from the court, replaced by a younger,
U.S.-educated judge who may be more willing to recognize the
argument that her right to a fair trial was compromised, Acosta
A ruling to throw out evidence and require a retrial could
meet less political resistance than the March motion that called
for her immediate release. The prospect of her release has
stirred resentment among victims of kidnapping, which often goes
unpunished by Mexico's weak justice system.
The conviction has caused a bitter diplomatic dispute with
France and a condemnation of Mexican justice, where authorities
are often accused of trumping up evidence to win convictions.