After over a week of delays and false starts, in which
officials within Mexico’s judicial system were either unable or unwilling to
offer an adequate translator for Cynthia Vanier, thus making it virtually
impossible for her legal team to cross-examine witnesses and evidence, the
Canadian government has sent a Diplomatic Note to Mexican officials expressing
Ms. Vanier, as readers of this blog are well-aware, is the
Canadian mediator accused by the Mexican government of being the ring-leader in
a plot to smuggle Saadi Gaddafi, fallen dictator Moammar Gaddafi’s third son,
from North Africa to Mexico.
Specific to Ms. Vanier, the main purpose of the hearings is
for her defense team to cross examine the prosecution’s evidence. Other
defendants in this case are Gabriela de Cueto, who is in the same prison as Ms.
Vanier, and two men: Pierre Flensborg and Jose Luis Kennedy Prieto, both of
whom are in jail in Veracruz.
Friday July 27 was supposed to be the beginning of two weeks
of hearings (audiencias
) in Chetumal,
where Ms. Vanier is imprisoned, with video link-ups to Mexico City. The Friday July 27 hearing was cancelled,
however, due to the fact that the court in Chetumal failed to provide an
This is an important issue, as Ms. Vanier does not speak Spanish.
It is also something that the court in Chetumal is well aware of, given that a
ruling in early May by a judge in Mexico City ordered that Ms. Vanier have
access to a translator, as per her rights under the Vienna Convention, the
Mexican Constitution, and the Mexican Penal Code.
Then on Monday, July 30, when the parties again showed up in
court, the same thing happened. Given that the hearings require the
participation of a judge in Mexico City, and everyone’s time was being wasted,
that judge decided to cancel the entire week’s audiencias
until an official translator could be engaged to fulfill
the legal requirements.
Hurricane Ernesto also arrived on their doorstep, resulting
in further delays. In total, nine hearings were cancelled and had to be
rescheduled. The cancellations now mean that this part of the legal process
will go on through the first week of September.
In response to concerns expressed by Ms. Vanier’s husband,
Pierre, Canadian consular officials raised the translation issue with the
Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, seeking their assurances that the trial
would progress without untimely delays and that an official translator would be
provided. To that end, the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City sent a Diplomatic Note
to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affair expressing the same in writing.
For the first time in this entire process, which has now
dragged on for almost eight months, a Canadian consular official attended a
proceeding. The official attended a video conference in Mexico City, but
appears to have left half-way through the cross-examination of the second
Given the international
of this trial, the slow uptake on the part of the Canadians is
hard to understand. It may be that they were shamed by the judge in Mexico
City, or that there is internal pressure on the Canadian side. There appeared
to be no specific or practical purpose to the presence of the consular official
– he was likely there simply to make a point as to the Canadian government’s
concern with regard to the procedural delays.
Not the real thing but...so far the case has 21 volumes of at least 500 pages each
During the hearings Ms. Vanier identified the female officer
who elbowed her in the ribs, which has resulted in ongoing kidney problems.
This assault has been a part of Ms. Vanier’s defense since the beginning.