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Pop star Kalimba freed in Mexico, in a case that grabbed headlines

Kalimba

A judge in a city on Mexico's Caribbean coast ruled there was insufficient evidence to try pop singer Kalimba on rape charges, ordering him released and ending a case that for weeks generated snickering front-page headlines in the Mexican press.

Kalimba had been accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in a hotel room in Chetumal, in Quintana Roo state, after a night of partying in December. The performer denied the accusations in television interviews. A day after a judge ordered him detained to face the charges, the singer, 28, was arrested in Texas on an immigration infraction and sent to the Yucatan Peninsula.

Kalimba Marichal is a former member of the pop group OV7 and was the voice of Simba in the Latin American version of "The Lion King."

His case was a boon for tabloid headline-writers. The same day that he was arrested in Texas, authorities in Mexico state announced the capture of a suspected hitman in Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, Damian Ramirez Encinas, also known as "El Kalimba." The tabloid Metro juxtaposed the two arrests with the headline, seen above: "The Original and the Pirated Copy."

But the case also cast attention on Mexico's dysfunctional justice system, as Reuters notes. Kalimba emerged Thursday from the Chetumal jail where he was being held with tears in his eyes, thanking God.

Kalimba was reportedly working on an English-language record in Texas, but the singer hasn't announced it. Watch Kalimba convincingly perform a cover of the Jose Jose classic "El Triste" in a well-known clip, a difficult feat for any vocalist.

— Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: The front-page of the Mexico City tabloid Metro, Jan. 21, 2011. Credit: DJgeo.tumblr.com.

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