LIBERATION, LE NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR, L’EXPRESS, FRANCE INFO (France), REFORMACOM (Mexico)

Worldcrunch

Florence Cassez, a French woman sentenced to 60 years in jail in Mexico for kidnapping, is on her way back to France.

Cassez, 38, is expected to land in Thursday afternoon in Paris, where she will be welcomed by France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius, French daily Libération reports, a day after Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that her rights had been violated during her arrest in 2005.

Cassez fue captada portando un chaleco antibalas antes de abordar la camioneta que la traslada hacia el AICM twitter.com/REFORMACOM/sta…

— REFORMACOM (@REFORMACOM) January 24, 2013

Tweet from the Mexican press: "Cassez wearing a bullet-proof jacket before she got in the van that took her to Mexico City International Airport"

In 2005, Cassez was arrested at a ranch near Mexico City with her former Mexican boyfriend Israel Vallarta, who was accused of leading a kidnapping gang called Los Zodiacos (the Zodiacs).

Cassez was then portrayed as a kidnapper by the Mexican police – something she has always denied -- and was involved in re-staging the event for a so-called "live" national broadcasting of the arrest, Le Nouvel Observateur recalls. The Mexican authorities subsequently admitted wrongdoing.

In 2008, a judge convicted Cassez to 96 years in prison in a closed-door trial with no jury, a sentenced which was then reduced to 60 years, before the Mexican Supreme Court ordered her "absolute and immediate freedom" on Wednesday, L’Express reports.

The case created diplomatic tensions between France and Mexico, reaching a peak two years ago when Mexican authorities cancelled a high-profile cultural event in Paris.

Florence Cassez became a cause célèbre in France, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his successor François Hollande both speaking out for Cassez’ liberation after seven years in jail.

The news has sparked contrasted reactions, ranging from joy – Cassez’ family, French politicians -- to outrage – families of Mexican victims of the Zodiacs gang; Cassez was freed, but not declared innocent or guilty.

WATCH the first images of Florence Cassez after she was freed from Mexico City's Tepepan prison:

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-Analysis-

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