PARIS – Frenchwoman Florence Cassez, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence in Mexico for kidnapping, said in an interview Sunday that she did not want France to cancel “Year of Mexico” events but to use the opportunity to talk about her case.
“The worst thing that can happen to me is to be forgotten,” Cassez told France Info.
Cassez’s family called for the cancellation of the events, but the convicted kidnapper said she wanted the celebration to go on.
A Mexican appellate court on Thursday rejected a habeas corpus motion filed by Cassez’s defense team, which alleged numerous irregularities in her case.
Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie on Friday summoned Mexican Ambassador to France Carlos de Icaza to the Foreign Ministry to express France’s displeasure with the ruling and to inform him that it “will have an impact on bilateral relations.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy “has never abandoned me and has done a lot for me,” the 36-year-old Cassez said.
Sarkozy asked Mexican President Felipe Calderon to repatriate Cassez during his visit to Mexico in March 2009.
Calderon and Sarkozy met again during the European Union-Latin America-Caribbean Summit in Madrid last May.
Sarkozy brought up Cassez’s situation during the meeting in the Spanish capital and “expressed his interest” in invoking the Strasbourg Convention in the case of the woman, requesting that she be transferred to France.
Calderon, however, told Sarkozy Cassez could not serve the prison sentence she was given in Mexico in her homeland.
The Mexican president noted the “substantial differences” between the legal systems in the two countries, which “prevent guaranteeing” that the sentence be served in France.
Cassez was arrested on Dec. 8, 2005, on the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway along with her boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, the suspected leader of the Los Zodiaco kidnapping gang.
A day later, agents from the now-defunct AFI, Mexico’s equivalent of the FBI, staged a mock raid so TV cameras could film the arrest of the gang members in a wooded area near Mexico City.
The Frenchwoman was sentenced to 98 years in prison in 2008, but her sentence was reduced to 60 years before Sarkozy’s visit to Mexico.
Cassez’s family has called for a tourist boycott of Mexico and for the cancellation of a series of activities this year in France to celebrate Mexican culture.
Alliot-Marie has been first to back that initiative, saying that she will not participate in any of the scheduled “Year of Mexico” events.
The foreign minister said Cassez did not receive a fair trial due to a lack of a “presumption of innocence” and the “absence of an authentic investigation.”