Mexican court rules against appeal of French woman convicted on kidnapping charges

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MEXICO CITY: A Mexican court on Thursday rejected the last remaining appeal of a French woman convicted on kidnapping charges, El Universal newspaper reported.

Florence Cassez, a French national, is currently serving a 60-year prison sentence for her participation in four kidnappings. Cassez appealed the sentence claiming to be a victim but the court ruled against her.

The French citizen said that her trial was marred with irregularities and that she only lived at a ranch where the victims were held without being involved in any. However, during trial it was revealed that she was the girlfriend of leader of the kidnapping ring.

In addition, one of the victims identified Cassez as one of the individuals that kept her captive. Another gang member in the case said that she participated in the abductions and even led the group that carried out the kidnappings.

Cassez alleged in her last appeal that she was detained in an illegal way. The court determined that the arrest was legal as she was carrying a weapon and at her residence police officers located the victims.

Activists and other anti-crime associations have pressured Mexican authorities to not reduce the sentence of Cassez. The groups said that it is outrageous that the French woman is trying to make herself a victim.

The French Embassy in Mexico City said that the groups are exerting direct pressure over the court. French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Mexico in 2009 and asked Mexico to allow Cassez to serve her sentence in France.

However, the request was denied by Mexico's President Felipe Calderon as France could not assure that she would serve her full 60-year prison term.

Cassez' lawyer said that he will take her case to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, a branch of the Organization of American States (OAS).

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