Mexican Indian women exonerated by Supreme Court after 4 years in prison demand public apology

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Two Indian women freed by Mexico's Supreme Court for lack of evidence after spending almost four years in prison on kidnapping charges demanded a public apology Thursday.

Otomi Indians Alberta Alcantara Juan and Teresa Gonzalez Cornelio, whose case drew international outrage, said that if Mexico wants to repair the damage done, the very least that officials should do is recognize and acknowledge the mistake.

"There's no way to pay for our lost time," Gonzalez said at a news conference. She was accompanied by her 1-year-old daughter, Jazmin, who was conceived and born while Gonzalez was in prison.

A federal government spokesman said no apology would be forthcoming. He spoke with The Associated Press under the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be quoted by name.

The women were arrested in 2006 during a raid at a traditional market in the small, central Mexican town of Santiago Mexquititlan. Six plainclothes federal investigators searching for pirated and fake-copyrighted items said unarmed vendors chased them down, trapped them and demanded a ransom.

The vendors said they staged a protest after police began busting up their stalls, but said they did not hold any officers against their will.

Three women were initially convicted and sentenced to 21 years in prison for allegedly kidnapping the six agents.

Critics, including Amnesty International, charged that prosecutors fabricated evidence.

One of the women, Jacinta Francisco Marcial, was freed last year after a judge said there was insufficient evidence against her.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled there was insufficient evidence against Gonzalez and Alcantara as well.

Andres Diaz, who works with the Mexico-based Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez human rights center and represents all three women, said Thursday that the group planned to file a petition seeking financial compensation for the women.