Woman's release helps French-Mexico ties: PM

25th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault expressed hope Friday for "a new takeoff in relations" with Mexico following the release from a Mexican prison of a French woman held in a kidnapping case.

Mexico's Supreme Court ordered Florence Cassez released after seven years behind bars, citing violations of her civil rights in a 3-2 vote. She flew home to Paris Thursday to a hero's welcome.

Ayrault, in Buenos Aires for a visit, is scheduled to meet in Santiago this weekend with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on the sidelines of an EU-Latin America summit.

"I will tell the Mexican president that I now hope for, and am sure there will be, a new takeoff in relations between Mexico and France," Ayrault said at a news conference here.

He said a change of presidents in Mexico and in the makeup of its Supreme Court had made the breakthrough possible, resolving an impasse that had set the two countries at odds for years.

"The important thing is that this Supreme Court took this decision with complete independence," Ayrault said.

Cassez, who has always proclaimed her innocence, was accused of being involved with a gang of kidnappers known as the Zodiacs, allegedly run by her ex-boyfriend Israel Vallarta.

The court justices ruled that the police violated her right to presumption of innocence and consular access when it staged her arrest in a live national television broadcast on December 9, 2005.

Mexican television showed police storming her ex-boyfriend's ranch near Mexico City on December 9, 2005, where they detained Cassez and freed three hostages as cameras rolled.

Interviewed on the spot by Televisa, the slight, red-haired woman looked stunned as she said: "I have nothing to do with this. I'm not his wife. I didn't know anything!"

It was later revealed that Cassez had actually been arrested on a road hours before the raid. The federal police said the re-enactment was made at the request of the media.

© 2013 AFP

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