Mexico's French festival snub over kidnap case

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The Independent US

The Mexican government has said it will not participate in France's yearlong festival celebrating Mexican culture because of a feud over a French woman convicted of kidnapping.

Mexico's foreign relations department said it was shocked that the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, wanted to use the festival to draw attention to the case of Florence Cassez.

"It is really surprising that a head of state would make a foreign policy decision that affects ties between two nations and governments in consultation with a person condemned by Mexican justice for a particularly serious crime," the statement said.

Tensions over the five-year-old case reignited last week when an appeals court upheld Cassez's conviction and 60-year prison sentence. Her lawyer and the French government say the case has been plagued with abuses, but the Mexican government insists her guilt has been proven.

"Regrettably, the government of Mexico will not be able to participate in the activities" of the festival, the foreign relations department statement said.

It was unclear how the Mexican government's refusal to participate would affect the "Year of Mexico" celebrations, which France launched last week. It features about 350 concerts, exhibitions and other events throughout 2011.