Amnesty International welcomes the release of Mexican prisoner of conscience Jacinta Francisco Marcial, who was held in prison for three years after being falsely accused of kidnapping six federal agents.
The mother of six, an Otomí Indigenous woman from Santiago Mexquititlán in the Mexican state of Querétaro, was sentenced to 21 years' imprisonment in December 2006.
Amnesty International is calling for a full review into her unfounded prosecution and for her to receive full compensation for unfair and wrongful imprisonment.
“The Mexican government has finally recognised that there was never evidence to justify Jacinta’s trial and conviction of 21 years imprisonment on charges of kidnapping,” said Kerrie Howard, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
“Jacinta and her family have been robbed of three years of her life while she has been detained in prison for a crime she did not commit. Nothing will bring back the time she lost in prison. However, it is vital that those responsible for this injustice are held to account and that she is fully compensated.”
The 46-year-old was released by the judge presiding over the retrial following an appeal won in her favour earlier in 2009. The judge’s decision was inevitable after the Federal Attorney General’s Office announced that it was dropping the case against Jacinta due to lack of evidence.
Jacinta Francisco Marcial was convicted of the kidnapping of six Mexican Federal Investigation Agency (Agencia Federal de Investigación, AFI) agents.
They claimed they were held hostage by Jacinta and other market stall holders during a raid on pirate DVD vendors on Santiago Mexquititlán square in March 2006.
More than four months after the event, on 3 August 2006, Jacinta was arrested and taken to the Federal Attorney General's Office. She was told she was going to be questioned about the felling of a tree. However, once at the prison she found out that she, along with two other women, were being accused of kidnapping the agents.
Amnesty International adopted Jacinta as a prisoner of conscience on 18 August 2009 after concluding there was no evidence against her and she had been arrested, tried and convicted because she was a poor Indigenous woman.
The release raises serious questions about the reliability of the entire prosecution case and highlights clear failings in the investigation.
Amnesty International has called for a full and impartial review of the investigation, including the case against co-defendants Alberta Alcántara and Teresa González, who were also convicted of kidnapping the six federal agents along with Jacinta.
outcome of a retrial.