Law or Justice

Florence Cassez… That name is causing strong opinion today. She is a French citizen who has been convicted of taking part in kidnappings in Mexico with the Zodiacs, a gang supposedly led by her boyfriend.  She has denied involvement in any crime.

But three of the Zodiacs’ victims who were liberated at the time of Cassez’ arrest: a mother, her child and another child testified that she was one of their captors. She was convicted and sentenced to 60 years.

Since her arrest in 2005 she has repeatedly demanded that she be repatriated to France on the grounds that her civil rights were violated  by the Mexican authorities. (PGR)  This is true, the authorities did everything wrong.

But contrast this with what victims endured: terror while they lay sequestered, mental and physical abuse, and for some – ultimately death.

Today the Supreme Court of Mexico voted to uphold her sentence. As things stand now, she will serve the remainder of her 60 year sentence in a Mexican federal penitentiary.

However, a new panel of judges will again assess the case because today, the Supreme Court admitted that Cassez was denied immediate access to an attorney, and was not presented before the prosecutors according to the established protocol.

Her lawyer, her father and the French consul expressed outrage because Cassez’ rights had not been upheld. They want the law to be respected.

The lobby for the victims and their families has a different take on the situation. They want the victims to receive justice.

Sadly, it looks like a case where either the law or justice will be respected. It can’t be both. It also seems to be a situation where international pressure could well prevail over national morality.



Filed under Vida Latina

12 responses to “Law or Justice

  1. Thank you for an insightful view into this horrific case.

    “How dare a country which rejected and expelled a French occupation then treat a French citizen (living with and participating in kidnapping, per her conviction) in the same way that Mexican citizens are treated!” —- pretty much sums up my perception of the false outrage over this case.

    Yes, people should receive consular assistance or consultation. That the USA permits prosecutors to ignore this treaty is scandalous. But at the same time, horrific acts cannot be excused. We must recognize where mistakes or misdeeds have been committed, but balance the remedy against the heavy weight of the crimes committed. In this case, review seems to be the right course, but not release. So far, so good.

  2. Pingback: She broke the law, but the law won… for now « The Mex Files

  3. This was probably the best verdict possible… the court is saying the evidence shows she is guilty, but… reviewing the process by which the original verdict was reached is warranted.

    There has been a not-so-below the radar dispute with the United States over the treatment of Mexican nationals by the U.S. courts and police and a demand that U.S. courts review sentences in light of these kinds of procedural errors. I don’t know how much this factored into the Ministers’ thinking, but it does bolster the Mexican consular services in their dispute with the U.S. courts.

    Seeing that the ones in the U.S. have led to executions, or… with Cassez to very long harsh prison sentences… following the “technicalities” is justice. “Better 99 go free than one innocent man suffer”, to quote Mamonides, the 12th century Iberian philosopher. And, if that one is guilty, at least go through the motions the right way before reaching that conclusion.

    • While I agree that the law being upheld is paramount, my heart goes out to the victims. The pain of watching someone who is guilty go free on “technicalities” is unspeakable. We must DEMAND that our authorities make better adherance to the correct procedural and civil rights a priority among the rank and file. If this Cassez woman goes back to France because of errors on the part of the PGR and media, perhaps we will come to judge her release as the blood price paid to get our house in order. What will really add insult to injury is if she’s given a “hero’s welcome.

      • Agreed… and I suspect that a lot of the dust-up is simply that the French are “first worlders” and there is the same undercurrent of racism in French complaints that there is when Canadian or U.S. citizens are jailed here. That the PGR screwed up says something about the present administration that I, not being a citizen, would not wish to commit to print.

      • I too saw racism and contempt was all over Florence Cassez’ father’s face and that of the French Consul. I am a citizen of Mexico and so I could make all kinds of comments, but let’s just say, “if you stand too close to the fire, you’re going to get burned.” Ms Cassez waded into the Zodiaks inferno of her own free will. Now she wants the firemen to rescue her… M_r_e!

  4. mcm

    It’s been interesting to watch the change in viewpoint by many (Mexican) columnists regarding the case. Initially, there seemed to be almost universal support for the sentence, and now, perhaps because of the convincing evidence for rights violations and the manipulation of the arrest scenario, most seem to support some leniency. The Supreme Court decision is encouraging — it recognizes the errors, but refuses to give Cassez a free pass, without further review. I’m proud to see both justice and law are considered!

    • As I replied to richmx2 I am unbelievably sad for the vistims. I can’t imagine how they must be suffering. On a newscast last night, Chassez’ lawyer was asked how he felt about Isabel Miranda de Wallace’s opinions during the Supreme Court hearing, he said he thought she shouldn’t mix her political campaigning and the Chassez case. How could he say such a thing to to a mother whose kidnapped son’s body was found cut into about 15 pieces… in a garbage dump? If I was her, I would never be able to separate ANYTHING from the horror of that. The lawyer’s comment shows how procedural law will probably take precedence over justice for the victims. I agree that law and justice are being “considered” but I fear the two will not be satisfied.

  5. And, now they want to offer her psychological help if she wants it. Have they offered help to the victims? Yes, it is justice or the law…. hopefully justice wins. We’ll see.

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