France, Mexico spar over jailed Frenchwoman

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 11 2011 07:03 PM | Updated as of Feb 12 2011 03:03 AM

PARIS, France - Diplomatic tensions rose between Mexico and France on Friday over the case of a Frenchwoman imprisoned in Mexico.

Mexico angrily rejected French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie's comment that Florence Cassez, whose conviction for kidnapping was upheld by a Mexican court on appeal, had suffered a "denial of justice."

Alliot-Marie reiterated her stance, saying she had summoned the Mexican ambassador and would avoid attending a programme of Mexican cultural events in France this year.

"It is a true denial of justice," she said on France 2 television on Friday. "I am going to say as much to the Mexican ambassador... this will have consequences."

"The Mexican foreign ministry deplores the declarations of Madame Alliot-Marie," said a statement from the Mexican embassy in France. "The ministry has refuted the claim of a denial of justice."

Cassez, 36, is serving a 60-year prison term for kidnapping. On Thursday Mexican judges rejected her lawyer's argument that her conviction was tainted by authorities, who were revealed to have staged her arrest five years ago.

Alliot-Marie warned on Thursday: "This decision is going to weigh on our bilateral relations."

Mexico is due to take over the leadership of the G20 economic grouping from Paris next year. Separately, the two countries have just launched a year of joint Mexican cultural celebrations in France.

Charlotte Cassez, the mother of the jailed woman, held a news conference calling on French President Nicolas Sarkozy to cancel the cultural year.

Alliot-Marie weathered a scandal in recent weeks for holidaying in Tunisia during a popular uprising against its authoritarian regime and for suggesting, during a violent crackdown, that French police could train Tunisian forces.