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  HOME | Mexico

Mexico Frees “Prisoner of Conscience”

MEXICO CITY – An indigenous woman serving a 21-year prison sentence for kidnapping was released Wednesday after the Mexican Attorney General decided not to prosecute her in a new trial.

Jacinta Francisco Marcial, recently adopted by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, early in the morning left the prison in the central state of Queretaro where she had been held for three years.

“She was already released. It was in the morning,” a prison official who preferred to remain unidentified told Efe, refusing to provide additional details on the matter.

El Universal newspaper said on its Web page that the prisoner’s only words upon leaving the prison were: “I feel happy.”

The 47-year-old Francisco Marcial, an Otomi Indian and the mother of six children, had been behind bars since August 2006.

Francisco Marcial was accused of kidnapping six federal police officers who alleged that she and other market stall holders in the plaza of Santiago Mexquititlan, Queretaro, took them hostage in March 2006 during an operation targeting sellers of pirated DVDs.

On Aug. 3, 2006, more than four months after the incident, Jacinta was arrested, with the only evidence against her a photograph published by a local newspaper showing her standing behind participants in the protest, Amnesty International pointed out last month.

In April, thanks to pressure exerted by several non-governmental organizations, led by the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center, which undertook her legal defense on a pro bono basis, a judge in Queretaro reopened the case.

But it was not until Sept. 3 that matters came to fruition, after the Mexican AG’s office announced that it was going to present “non-accusatory conclusions” against Jacinta.

On Monday, the Queretaro court dealing with the case decided to exonerate Jacinta.

El Universal said Jacinta is studying the possibility of asking for an indemnity from the state for the time she remained in prison.

Francisco Marcial was denied a fair trial and jailed “solely due to her marginal status in society as a poor indigenous woman with limited access to justice,” Amnesty International said last month. EFE
 

 

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