In Mexico, Frenchwoman's sentence cut from 96 to 70 years

A Mexican judge on Tuesday reduced a Frenchwoman's kidnapping sentence from 96 to 70 years in jail, according to her lawyer who expressed outrage over the decision and insisted on her innocence.
The judgment in the appeal of Florence Cassez, 34, whose case has been closely followed in France, came days before French President Nicolas Sarkozy was to make an official visit to Mexico.

"It is a scandal, a shame -- a blow to liberty and to life," Cassez's lawyer Franck Berton told AFP. "Everything points to her innocence."
Cassez, jailed for more than three years in Mexico, has proclaimed she was unaware of the illicit activities of her Mexican former fiance, Israel Vallarta, believed to be the head of a criminal gang.
Cassez was detained in December 2005 at Vallarta's home, where several kidnap victims were found and rescued by police.
She "broke down in tears" when she heard the judge's ruling on her appeal, the lawyer said. "She is revolted by this additional injustice."
In her initial trial in 2006, Cassez was convicted on four counts of kidnapping and and weapons possession and sentenced to 96 years behind bars.
The woman's fate has drawn the attention of French officials including Sarkozy, who met with Cassez's parents last May.
Two French senators and a regional executive on Tuesday urged Sarkozy to "postpone or even cancel" his trip over the affair.
"To announce such a judgment a few days ahead of his official trip is not only a snub for France, but also a provocation against the French president," Ile-de-France executive Jean-Luc Romero and senators Alain Fouche and Jean-Rene Lecerf said in a statement.
Image of the parents of Florence Cassez, from Daylife (AFP/Getty Images).

Wednesday, March 4th 2009

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