Mexico court orders release of woman jailed for abortion

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - Mexico's Supreme Court ordered the release on Wednesday of a woman who served seven years in jail for aborting a child illegally, saying she did not receive due process.

The high court said Ms Adriana Manzanares, an indigenous Tlapaneca who does not speak Spanish, was freed after conviction "due to several violations of due process, including the lack of an interpreter who spoke her language and understood her culture and worldview".

The attorney who helped secure her release was not immediately available for comment.

Local media reported that Ms Manzanares had been sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2006 after authorities said she illegally aborted her fetus late in her pregnancy.

Ms Manzanares got pregnant by someone else than her husband, the father of her first two children, in her southwestern village of Ayutla de Los Libres.

Under local indigenous customs, her husband and father were among those who stoned her, which by Ms Manzanares's account caused her to miscarry, local media reported.

She was convicted "on insufficient evidence that a crime was committed, and insufficient evidence that she was responsible", the high court said.

Out of 112 million people, Mexico has almost 15 million indigenous people - including Aztecs, Nahuatl, Mixtecs and Maya - who speak dozens of languages.

But Mexico has been slow to adopt policies to encourage bilingual education, and ensure educational integration for indigenous people, most of whom live in rural and often relatively remote areas.

The government's attitude long has been that indigenous people should integrate themselves into the Spanish-language mainstream, or face worse living conditions.

Abortion is illegal in many but not all of Mexico's states. In Mexico City, it is legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.