‘Affaire Cassez’ overshadows Sarkozy visit to Mexico

In a speech to the Mexican Senate, French President Nicolas Sarkozy appealed for the repatriation of Florence Cassez, a French citizen who is serving a 60-year sentence for being part of a kidnap gang, despite requests from the Mexican Foreign Ministry and the congressional leadership not to do so. Cassez was arrested in 2005 in a much criticized bust by the AFI (then headed by SSP Secretary Genaro García Luna) that was staged for the benefit of Televisa’s camera crews. Mexico is a signatory to the Strasbourg Convention with the EU, which allows for foreign prisoners to be repatriated to their home countries to serve out their sentences. Presidents Calderón and Sarkozy agreed to form a binational commission to examine the legal issues involved. Speaking in Paris, author Carlos Fuentes noted, “There is a very strong nationalist reaction in Mexico over this case. But the reaction also has to do with … the system of injustice that rules in Mexico. All this noise is not just directed at the presence of a French criminal, but at the reality that so many Mexican criminals evade justice and make a joke of the laws.” (Reforma 3/11, Universal 3/13)

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