Frenchwoman gets 60 years prison in Mexico

4th March 2009, Comments 1 comment

A woman who was originally sentenced to 96 years in jail for kidnapping has had her sentence reduced to 60 years – dashing her last hope for freedom.

MEXICO CITY – A Mexican judge reduced a Frenchwoman's kidnapping sentence from 96 to 60 years in jail, Mexican officials said in a statement late Tuesday.

The judgment in the appeal of Florence Cassez, 34, whose case has been closely followed in France, came days before French President Nicolas Sarkozy was to make an official visit to Mexico.

"They took away my last hope," Cassez told AFP by phone from the prison where she is being held.

"On 8 March it will be three years and three months, taken from my life."

Cassez's lawyer Franck Berton expressed outrage at the judgment, and insisted on his client's innocence.

"It is a scandal, a shame - a blow to liberty and to life," said Berton.

"Everything points to her innocence."

Cassez, jailed since 2005 in Mexico, has proclaimed she was unaware of the illicit activities of her Mexican former fiance, Israel Vallarta, believed to be the head of a criminal gang.

Cassez was detained in December 2005 at Vallarta's home, where several kidnap victims were found and rescued by police.

She "broke down in tears" when she heard the judge's ruling on her appeal, the lawyer said. "She is revolted by this additional injustice."

In her initial trial in 2006, Cassez was convicted on four counts of kidnapping and weapons possession and sentenced to 96 years behind bars.

The woman's fate has drawn the attention of French officials including Sarkozy, who met with Cassez's parents in May 2008.

Two French senators and a regional executive on Tuesday urged Sarkozy to "postpone or even cancel" his trip over the affair.

"To announce such a judgment a few days ahead of his official trip is not only a snub for France, but also a provocation against the French president," Ile-de-France executive Jean-Luc Romero and senators Alain Fouche and Jean-Rene Lecerf said in a statement.

AFP / Expatica

1 Comment To This Article

  • jo posted:

    on 7th March 2009, 19:20:09 - Reply

    She deserves nothing more than a life in prison. She is definitely guilty. Several victims identify this French criminal as one of their kidnapers.