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Americas

Sarkozy to press Mexico for return of convicted abductor

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-02-14

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he will press Mexico again to repatriate a French woman who began a 60-year jail sentence for kidnapping in 2006 after her boyfriend was found to be holding three people hostage at their home.

REUTERS - President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday he would ask Mexico again to repatriate Florence Cassez, a Frenchwoman serving a jail term there for kidnapping, after her court appeal was rejected last week.

Sarkozy emerged from the latest of a series of meetings with Cassez's parents since she was jailed five years ago saying France respected Mexico's legal system but wants Cassez to serve the rest of her 60-year term in France.
 
"I am ready to talk to the Mexican authorities about the conditions for a transfer," said Sarkozy, whose past requests to have Cassez returned to France have been refused.
 
"We will not leave this young woman in prison for another 60 years," he told reporters at the Elysee presidential palace.
 
Sarkozy said France would go ahead with a "Year of Mexico" planned for 2011, after calls from some that the cultural event be axed in protest, and said he would dedicate it to Cassez.
 
Cassez, 36 and facing 55 more years in a Mexican jail, was arrested in 2005 with her Mexican boyfriend in a dramatic police swoop at a ranch near Mexico City where three people, including a young girl, were being held hostage. Cassez, who says she is innocent, has widespread support in France where many see her as a victim of a murky justice system. A Mexican court's rejection of her appeal fanned tension after French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said it constituted "a denial of justice" and would hurt relations.
 
Cassez, whose case was taken up by Sarkozy on a 2009 trip to Mexico, says she was unaware her boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, was holding hostages at the house they were staying in.
 
Mexico, which is ravaged by drug trafficking and organised crime, imposes heavy penalties on kidnappers. The government has said from the start it cannot interfere with judicial decisions.
 
Mexico and France will work together on global financial issues this year before France passes the G20 presidency baton to Mexico in November.
 
A lawyer for Cassez, Franck Berton, said he plans to file a legal complaint against Mexican Public Security Minister Genaro Garcia Luna over the case.

 

Date created : 2011-02-14

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