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The Journal Gazette

Friday, January 25, 2013 6:52 pm

Mexican suspects to get Miranda-style warnings

The Associated Press

Reading suspects their rights is an idea that most Mexicans had only heard about in American movies until Friday, when authorities announced they are starting a program to require police to do just that.

Eduardo Sanchez, the assistant secretary of the interior, said all federal police will have to advise detainees of their right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer. The warning will also advise foreigners they have a right to consular assistance and speakers of Indian languages and foreigners that they can have translators.

The Interior Department said suspects could appeal to win their release if they are not read their rights, but that would not necessarily void the charges against them. They would presumably be put on trial, but could not be held in pre-trial detention. Officer who failed to read suspects their rights could face disciplinary action.

A card containing the rights-warning will be distributed to all police, and includes telling them why they are being arrested and that they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The United States has required so-called "Miranda Rights" warnings since the 1960s.

Roberto Hernandez, the director of "Presumed Guilty," a recent documentary about a man arrested on flawed evidence and questionable police procedures, had mixed feelings about the announcement.

"It's good. That's going to have a civilizing effect on the police," Hernandez said. " But obviously, unless there is some sort of consequence for not given a warning, in terms of invalidating a statement you give to police ... it's not going to have any effect "

The announcement comes two days after Mexico released French citizen Florence Cassez, who was convicted of kidnapping on flawed evidence and police procedures. The Supreme Court ruled that the irregularities in Cassez's trial were so serious she should be released. The Cassez ruling shocked Mexico and exposed the shortcomings of its legal system, and the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto has pledged to avoid such abuses in the future.

Miguel Sarre, an expert in law at the Technological Institute of Monterrey, said "this (announcement) is an after-effect of the Florence Cassez case."


Associated Press Writer Kathy Corcoran contributed to this report