An indigenous woman who was sentenced eight years ago for kidnapping was freed Thursday on the grounds that she had been tortured during the investigation.
María Isabel San Agustín, originally of Hidalgo, was arrested in the Mexico City borough of Milpa Alta in 2011 and sentenced two years later to 65 years in prison.
But her case was revisited by federal justice authorities in 2018 and she was ordered released under the Istanbul Protocol, an international set of guidelines on the documentation of torture. The National Human Rights Commission had found evidence of torture after her arrest.
Nonetheless, the 35-year-old had to wait another three years to walk free. Her liberation appears to have been hastened by President López Obrador’s announcement last week that thousands of inmates would be released from jail if they had been victims of torture or were over 75 years old and had not committed a serious crime.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum announced San Agustín’s release on Twitter.
“I was in communication with María Isabel San Agustín’s family to inform them of the liberation of her release in the next few hours, after suffering torture and spending 11 years imprisoned unjustly.” She added that other similar cases were currently being examined.
The Mexico City Human Rights Commission said Monday that at least 479 people in city prisons were victims of torture. In 49 of those cases it has been determined that torture could have interfered with the investigation of the crimes of which they were accused.
It was an emotional moment yesterday at 6:00 p.m. when San Agustín walked out of a Mexico City prison into the arms of waiting family members. “Justice was done,” she declared to reporters, but cautioned that justice remained to be done in the prison she had just left.
“… most of the population here is innocent.”