Mexico to boycott French festival on Mexican culture over kidnapper's case controversy

Posted By: Bno
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MEXICO CITY: The Mexican government on Monday announced that the country will not participate in the "Year of Mexico in France" festival after controversy over the case of French kidnapper Florence Cassez.

Following the declarations of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Mexican government considers that there are no favorable conditions for the Year of Mexico in France to be held in an appropriate manner that fulfills the project's objective," the Mexican Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The festival was planned as a demonstration of the friendship links between both countries. The French government proposed the project and invited Mexico as well. Mexican artists and creators were expected to participate in it.

The Mexican government said that it will not allow any artist or businessman to participate in the festival to prevent begin exposed to demonstrations that differ from the original intention of the celebration.

According to the statement, the French government originally stated that the festival will "allow France's citizens to be introduced to the diversity and richness of the cultural heritage of Mexico as well as its creative dynamism."

President Sarkozy recently said that the Year of Mexico in France festival will be dedicated to Cassez. The French woman is currently serving a 60-year prison sentence for her participation in four kidnappings in Mexico.

Mexican authorities said that Sarkozy's comments were outrageous as they threatened the relations between both nations by supporting an individual who was sentenced due to her severe criminal offenses. Kidnapping is considered one for the most serious crimes in Mexico

It remains to be seen what direct impact the Mexican government’s absence will have on the festival proceedings, which began last week. The Year of Mexico in France consists of over 300 exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events scheduled throughout 2011.

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 the process against Cassez it was proved her involvement in the kidnapping case. The indictment included accusations from witnesses and victims, as well as evidence that corroborated the guilty verdict," the Foreign Ministry statement added.

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 appealed the sentence claiming to be a victim but the court ruled against her last week reigniting tensions between France and Mexico. She alleged that she was detained in an illegal way.

Mexican police admitted they had staged her arrest and the liberation of the hostages at the ranch for TV cameras. The real arrest took place one day before. 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 Mexican President Felipe Calderon as France could not assure that she would serve her full 60-year prison term due to differences between both countries justice systems.


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