Cyndy Vanier, the Canadian woman accused of masterminding a plot to smuggle the son of late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to Mexico, has been released from jail after a tribunal of the Supreme Court of Mexico upheld her appeal.
A mediator from Mount Forest, Ont., Vanier had spent much of the last 18 months in a prison on the Mexico-Belize border. Her appeal had raised numerous human rights and constitutional issues in her case.
Vanier's co-accused, Gabriella de Cueto, was also ordered released and she left the prison early Friday morning. Two other co-accused, Pierre Flensborg of Denmark and Mexican Jose Luis Kenney Prieto, remain in prison.
Vanier's husband, Pierre, wept and hugged their lawyer at a hotel nearby when the call from Mexico City finally came in.
"Thank you," he whispered.
"Eighteen months, I can't believe it," said Vanier's Mexican lawyer, Noel Almanza Mundo. "This is the first human rights case like this in Mexico."
Pierre Vanier and his lawyer raced to the prison and waited outside the gate in the dark for a copy of the release order to be hand-delivered by a court official.
A Canadian Consulate official from Cancun was also at the prison to help facilitate Vanier's release.
She was transported by van out of prison Friday morning just before 5 a.m. local time, and taken down the road about half a kilometre to an immigration centre so her release could be processed. She is expected to board a flight back to Toronto tomorrow. She faces no charges in Canada.
Validity of evidence challenged
Vanier and her co-accused were arrested in Mexico City in early November 2011 as they were set to meet with a financial vice-president for SNC-Lavalin, Canada's largest engineering firm.
Vanier had challenged the grounds for her arrest and detention, alleging various violations — including being denied access to a lawyer and her embassy when she was arrested.
She also challenged the validity of the evidence Mexican prosecutors used to detain her. The Mexican Supreme Court tribunal issued a 700-page decision Monday.
The judge had until midnight Thursday to release Vanier.
The Supreme Court ruling interrupts what has been an ongoing trial on the criminal charges, and is not a decision regarding Vanier's guilt or innocence regarding the plot to smuggle the Gadhafis out of Libya in the dying days of the regime.
Gary Peters maintains he and Vanier visited Libya in the summer of 2011 on a trip paid for by SNC-Lavalin which they both described as a fact-finding mission. Peters was Vanier's bodyguard during that time.
Peters and Vanier had a falling out after the trip.
Peters was recently deported from Canada for his ties to the Gadhafis, but before he left he provided to CBC News a cache of emails between himself and Vanier, which includes a discussion of Saadi Gadhafi.
When CBC News confronted Vanier a few weeks ago about Peters' claims, she challenged the authenticity of the emails and referred questions to her lawyer.
Vanier accuses Peters of being a liar and says she plans to restore her reputation through lawsuits against Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, Peters and news agencies reporting his claims.