The parents of Florence Cassez, a Frenchwoman convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to 60 years in prison in Mexico, plan to ask new French President François Hollande to put pressure on the Mexican government to release her.
Hollande will be asked next week to "continue pressuring Mexican authorities," as predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy did, to try win the woman's release, Cassez's parents, Charlotte and Bernard, said in a press conference Monday in Mexico City.
Sarkozy, who was ousted from France's presidency earlier this month by Hollande, pressured Mexico to transfer Cassez to a French prison to serve out her term, invoking the Strasbourg Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, which Mexico signed in 2007.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon's administration has said the Frenchwoman - who received a 98-year prison sentence in 2008 that was subsequently reduced to 60 years - cannot be repatriated due to the possibility that she could obtain a drastic reduction or suspension of her sentence in France.
Some of Sarkozy's statements about the Cassez case caused diplomatic tensions with Mexico, especially his call in February 2011 to dedicate the "Year of Mexico," a series of more than 350 art, cultural and business events scheduled to be held in France, to the jailed Frenchwoman.
Charlotte and Bernard Cassez said during the presentation of the 2nd edition of Florence's book, "A la sombra de mi vida" (In the Shadow of My Life), that the French Socialist Party had expressed its support before Hollande's victory in the presidential election.
"There are grounds for releasing my daughter," Bernard Cassez said, adding that Mexican officials committed "a series of irregularities in the judicial process."
Florence Cassez was arrested on Dec. 8, 2005, on the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway along with her boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, the suspected leader of the Los Zodiaco kidnapping gang.
A day later, agents from the now-defunct AFI, Mexico's equivalent of the FBI, staged a mock raid so TV cameras could film the arrest of the gang members in a wooded area near Mexico City.
The re-enactment of the raid was among the irregularities, making it seem as if Florence was being arrested at that time, Bernard Cassez said.
Florence is "very stressed, unhappy and desperate," Charlotte Cassez said, adding that the Mexican government would be held accountable for her daughter's health.
An international support network has been organized to win Florence's release and her attorney in Mexico, Agustin Acosta, has emphasized the importance of having the new French administration's support, Charlotte and Bernard Cassez said.
Florence Cassez's situation appeared to take a positive turn in March, when Mexican Supreme Court Justice Arturo Zaldivar urged her "immediate and unconditional" release in a draft opinion on the case.
"The police officers who arrested Cassez did not immediately contact the French consulate" and therefore violated her right to receive consular assistance, Zaldivar said in the draft opinion, which is being reviewed by his fellow justices.
The Supreme Court has stated that the extended delay in handing the 37-year-old Cassez over to prosecutors also violated her rights.
The legal battle has been in the hands of the Supreme Court since Cassez's defense team appealed her sentence to Mexico's highest tribunal last year.
The Frenchwoman has proclaimed her innocence from the beginning, denying that she participated in kidnappings. EFE