GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Families of kidnapping victims called Frenchwoman Florence Cassez a “killer” as she was released from a Mexico City prison on Wednesday and escorted to the airport.
Hours later, the 38-year-old arrived in Paris to a hero’s welcome.
A Supreme Court panel on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of Cassez, who had served seven years of a 60-year jail sentence for helping her ex-boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, run a kidnapping gang.
Cassez declared “I was cleared” after arriving in the French capital, the Guardian reported.
"I suffered as a victim for more than seven years," Cassez said.
She was quoted by the Washington Post as saying: “I have been declared innocent.”
Not true, says Supreme Court Judge Olga Sanchez Cordero, who pointedly told Mexican newspaper El Universal in an article published Thursday that the decision to free Cassez was not a declaration of her innocence, rather it was due to gross irregularities during her arrest in 2005.
Police arrested Cassez at a ranch near Mexico City, held her incognito for a day, and then made her participate in a re-enactment of the police raid, which was aired on national television.
In the video Cassez was portrayed as one of the kidnappers.
The decision to free Cassez dominated Mexican news coverage on Thursday. Many people here are angry at the ruling, especially the families of victims kidnapped by Cassez’s ex-boyfriend’s gang.
Some people took to social networking sites to vent their frustration at the decision.
According to the Associated Press, a survey in Mexico shows most people believe Cassez is guilty.
The wife of one of the victims on Wednesday told reporters gathered outside the Mexico City prison where Cassez spent the past seven years that her husband was held for three months by the gang.
"We paid the ransom, but they killed him anyway," she was quoted by the AP as saying.
"It's not fair what they've done to us, it's not fair they're freeing her."
The case has strained relations between Mexico and France, and shone a harsh spotlight on Mexico's flawed justice system.
Justice Arturo Zaldivar, a member of the Supreme Court panel that freed Cassez, said on Wednesday that the actions taken by police after the Frenchwoman was arrested brought the case undone.
“If she had been turned over to court custody promptly, if she had been allowed prompt consular assistance, this (raid) staging couldn’t have taken place, and the whole affair would have been totally different,” Zaldivar said.
More from GlobalPost: Mexico News