Sat, Feb 12, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Mexico upholds French woman’s conviction

KIDNAPPER?The woman claims she was simply dating one of the Mexicans arrested in the case, but victims identified her as one of the leaders of the gang

AP, MEXICO CITY

Florence Cassez of France listens as Mexican authorities fill in documentation after her arrest in Mexico City, Mexico, on Dec. 9, 2005.

Photo: Reuters

An appeals court on Thursday upheld the conviction of a French woman imprisoned in Mexico for kidnapping, a case that has ignited passions in both Mexico and France and caused friction between the two governments.

France’s foreign minister reacted strongly, calling the decision deplorable and saying it would affect relations with Mexico.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department rejected the charge that an injustice was done and said it regretted “profoundly” that France would allow relations to be harmed by the case.

The court said in a statement that the conviction and 60-year-sentence of Florence Cassez would stand. The court said that prosecutors had proved Cassez’s guilt in three 2005 kidnappings and that irregularities alleged by her defense attorney did not hinder the case.

Cassez has acknowledged she lived at a ranch near Mexico City where the kidnap victims were held, including an eight-year-old girl.

However, she said she was simply dating a Mexican arrested in the case and did not know the people at the ranch had been kidnapped.

One of the victims identified Cassez as one of her captors, and another suspect in the case said the Frenchwoman not only participated in abductions, but helped lead the gang that carried them out.

The appeals court ruled that while the victims never saw Cassez’s face, they identified her by her voice, foreign accent and hair color.

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