Human Rights and Civil Society

Querétaro woman released from prison three years after being imprisoned on kidnapping charges

Jacinta Francisco, an Otomí indigenous woman from the state of Querétaro, was released from prison September 16 when a district judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence to convict her – three years after her arrest and imprisonment. Her co-defendants Alberta Alcántara and Teresa González remain in prison, according to Mexican news outlets. The decision came at a difficult juncture for the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR), following the resignation this month of Attorney General Medina Mora and a month after the Supreme Court ordered the release of 22 prisoners held for ten years for the 1997 Acteal massacre in Oaxaca.

Jacinta Francisco was arrested in 2006, accused of kidnapping six agents of the now-defunct Federal Agency of Investigations (AFI) when they raided the marketplace where she worked in search of pirated media. The agents claimed that Francisco convinced others at the market to kidnap the agents and demand a ransom. Francisco was quickly arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to 20 years in prison, alongside Alcántara and González. Earlier this month the PGR recanted the kidnapping charges against Francisco only, admitting that there was reasonable doubt of her guilt in the crimes. Only two weeks earlier the agency had characterized the evidence against her as “solid.” The Mexican justice system has come under increasing pressure from the United Nations and domestic non-government organizations to release the three defendants.

Several irregularities were documented during the case against Fernando, such as the refusal to admit testimonies from her fellow townspeople, the failure to provide Fernando with a translator, and contradictions in the testimonies of the six AFI agents. In this month’s hearing brought forth by the human rights groups Fray JacoboDaciano and Agustín Pro Juárez to challenge Fernando’s imprisonment, one of the agents failed to appear in court.

While the aforementioned human rights groups were instrumental in bringing the irregularities of the case to light, other organizations have been criticized for not doing more sooner. It was not until August of this year that the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) declared that the conviction of the three women was based on false witnesses and testimonies of hearsay. In the waning days of Commission President José Luis Soberanes, the CNDH has come under increasing fire from domestic and international human rights organizations for not fulfilling its mandate.


“ONU pide pronta liberación de Jacinta y dos indígenasmás.” El Universal. September 10, 2009.

Arreola, Juan José. “Sin Jacinta, inician último juicio en Querétaro.” El Universal. September 14, 2009.

Madrid, Lemic. “Coacusadas de Jacinta continúan presas.” Excelsior. September 16, 2009.

Gil Olmos, José. “Jacinta, una mujer incómoda para la justicia.” Proceso. September 16, 2009.

Norandi, Mariana. “Se congratula Inmujeres por liberación de Jacinta Francisco.” La Jornada. September 16, 2009.

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