Mexico rights panel to file criminal complaint over Cassez case

Mexico City, Mar 14 (EFE).- Mexico's top human rights body has called for a probe into more than a score of current and former federal law-enforcement officials for alleged rights violations of Frenchwoman Florence Cassez, who spent seven years in prison on a kidnapping conviction before Mexico's high court ordered her released in January.

The president of Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, Raul Plascencia, said in presenting a special report on the case at a press conference that numerous "irregularities" were found in the process leading to Cassez's conviction in 2008.

He called for an investigation into 21 current and former police commanders and officers attached to the federal Attorney General's Office and its now-defunct AFI investigative arm, Mexico's equivalent of the FBI, who were involved in the case.

Cassez, now 38, was sentenced to 60 years in prison for kidnapping and other crimes, but Mexico's Supreme Court ordered her immediate release in January on grounds her rights were violated.

The magistrates did not rule on her innocence or guilt.

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, AFI agents staged a mock raid so TV cameras could film the arrest of the gang members in a wooded area near Mexico City.

In ordering her release, the Supreme Court cited the re-enactment of the raid and other due-process violations.

The CNDH said it will file a formal complaint with the federal AG's office calling on prosecutors to investigate those 21 current and former law-enforcement officials for probable crimes and administrative infractions and mete out appropriate punishment if necessary.

It also recommended that necessary measures be taken "to repair damage to the victims of kidnappings ascribed to the gang that Cassez allegedly belonged to."