Mexico's Supreme Court has ordered the release of two Indians who had spent nearly three years behind bars and were regarded as prisoners of conscience by human rights groups, an attorney involved in the case said.

The ruling benefits Pascual Agustin Cruz and Jose Ramon A. Gomez, who were freed hours after the decision was handed down, Araceli Olivos, a lawyer with the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center, told Efe late Wednesday.

Judicial sources said the high court found "irregularities" during the men's trial on robbery charges and a lack of evidence.

The case dates back to Jan. 13, 2010, when the suspects were apprehended and accused of violent theft of a vehicle.

Both had positions of responsibility in their community and were working on a program to provide universal access to potable water, a project that threatened the interests of a group in the business of selling water.

Amnesty International and the Pro Juarez Center had said the suspects were denied their constitutional right to a Nahuatl-speaking attorney or an interpreter familiar with their culture.

AI also has urged judicial authorities to review other cases involving members of indigenous communities who are currently in custody. EFE