Cassez case: “The Case Went Back to the Court”

Translated from spanish  El Universal

By Ana Abinarte – translation: Pierre Lacour

January, 13th 2013

 

David Bertet, President of the Florence Cassez Association for the Defense of Human Rights, foresees that on January 23, when the First Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Nation cast its vote on Justice Olga Sanchez’s new proposal on Florence Cassez’ case -the French woman who was sentenced to 60 years in jail for kidnapping, organized crime and illegal possession of weapons- the five justices will let her free, and they will not be submitted to the pressure of the executive power.

Bertet considers that the situation is now different from that of last March, when [President] Felipe Calderón was in power and the project of Arturo Zaldívar to appeal for legal protection and to free her immediately, due to the constitutional violations to her detention and to the legal process, did not succeed, thanks to the pressure of the government.

“We have now a new situation, and what’s new is that Felipe Calderón is not here anymore. His henchmen, including the Director of the Federal Agency of Investigation (AFI), Genaro García Luna, and Luis Cárdenas Palomino, are no longer part of the administration. We believe this will help Florence, because there will not be any pressure on the Supreme Court from [President] Enrique Peña Nieto, as there was during the Calderón administration,” said Bertet in a phone interview from Montréal (Canada.)

According to Bertet, “Mexico’s current President wants the Cassez’ case to be solved in the High Court, while Felipe Calderón did not want Florence to go back to [France] and did everything in his power to make sure it did not happen.”

Bertet also considers that as far as the French government –under socialist François Hollande- is concerned, there is no interference in the case and members of the government have stated that [Mexico’s] Supreme Court ought to do its work.

“It is true that François Hollande and Valérie Trieweiler have supported Florence as they did so for other prisoners jailed outside of France; they have done so in a more discrete manner and without prompting controversies as did Sarkozy,” added Bertet.

He said: “I think the case went back to Court, from where it should not have gone out…” and it is no longer a political and diplomatic problem between Mexico and France, but a judicial case.”

 

“Florence is calm”

Bertet has been a friend of Florence’s for a long time, and he talks to her several times a week. The last time was a few days ago, when she herself brought the topic of Olga Sanchez’s new project into the discussion, a project that purports to “review” her case, and could entail a new sentence that could be freedom.

“She is calm. I talked to her last week. She did not know yet the date of the trial; I found her very calm and confident that everything will turn out well,” Bertet explained.

About the new project of Olga Sanchez Cordero, Bertet said that she is seeking a compromise. “Setting her free would be right, as Justice Zaldívar requested it last time, but the judges did not favor voting for that option and the project did not move forward.”

“Now, we believe that the Sanchez Cordero’s option, which is similar to the previous request, is the right one,” he added.

 

Florence Cassez:The Freedom of Innocence in Jail

January 13, 2012

Published in http://fearlessfathers.wordpress.com/

On Sunday January 8, 2012, I met Florence Cassez, the French women who has been sentenced to serve sixty years in prison by the Mexican justice for the crimes of  kidnapping and organized crime she did not commit.  As I was carrying the  grilled chicken Florence had asked me to bring for lunch, heading toward the Centro Feminil de Readaptacion Social (South of Mexico City) where she is incarcerated, I was still struggling with the thought that had started to bug me since Florence had accepted my request to visit her, three days before: I am no journalist, no lawyer, and therefore I could not be of much help to her.

I know I will not sleep much until she is freed, but I also know now she does not need my help that much. The first thing I found out last Sunday is that she has been helping herself amazingly well given what she has gone through. Before meeting her, I had in mind the image of Florence in shock during the AFI’s remake of her arrestation for the Mexican TV, on December 9 2005. The Florence Cassez I see after passing security, as I step into the large room where a crowd of inmates are meeting and eating with their visitors, has nothing to do with that.  She is a rather tall women with an intense and reflective gaze. She graciously introduces me to her two other visitors, among whom David Bertet, who manages the Canadian Committee in Support of Florence. I quickly discover she has guts. Indeed, as I am telling her I did not understand why the Mexican government  (Mexico is a signat0ry of the 1983 Strasbourg convention on the transfer of sentenced persons) has been dragging its feet to repatriate Florence to France while invoking the incompatibility of the French thirty-year maximum jail sentence with Florence’s, she brushes away this option. Repatriation? No Sir. She did not want that. Doing time in France meant acknowledging she was guilty. She is innocent. Florence wants the Cassez’s case to be cleared in Mexico. She is fully aware that if it were to happen, it would have wide implications for the working of the Mexican justice system, and for the lot of those Mexican whose rights are violated and who, like her, rot in jail thanks to flawed or made-up accusations of kidnapping.

As the discussion unfolds around lunch, I cannot but notice with immense pleasure that it is interrupted many times. Florence is not at all ostracized as I was fearing. On the contrary, she is a popular figure here. Folks want to chat with her. She keeps getting up, keeps leaving the table to check hands or hug people. David Bertet told me aside that her humility, her acceptance of the rules of the jail, has earned her the respect of the inmates and that of the prison’s authorities. According to Florence, it has not always been like that; President Sarkozy’s intervention with the Senate and the Mexican government was key to the inmates’change of mind about her. As they saw the French President himself pulling up his sleeves for Florence, people started to question the way most of the Mexican media had depicted her, as the sequestradora, the Francesa diabolica. I gladly admit I was off the mark in an earliercriticism of Sarkozy’s intervention on this blog. Yet I think that Florence is perhaps too modest. Her audacious resilience in claiming her innocence must have something to do with people’s empathy for her.