Ontario woman jailed in Mexico denied release

Mexican authorities will continue holding a Canadian woman — and three co-accused — for up to 10 more days, as a judge considers whether to charge them in an alleged plot to smuggle members of Libya's Gadhafi family into the country.

Cyndy Vanier accused of plotting to smuggle members of Gadhafi family into country

Cyndy Vanier has been held without charge since Nov. 10 on accusations she led a plot to smuggle members of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's family into Mexico. ((Submitted by Betty MacDonald) )

Mexican authorities have announced they plan to continue holding a Canadian woman — and three co-accused — for up to 10 more days, as a judge considers whether to charge them in an alleged plot to smuggle members of Libya's Gadhafi family into the country.

Cyndy Vanier, of Mount Forest, Ont., has been held under the country's "preventive arrest" laws for 80 days, accused of — but not charged with — leading the alleged smuggling plot.

Vanier's family said Tuesday night that they have received word that she will be transferred to a new federal prison while the judge reviews the prosecutor's file.

Under Mexican law, authorities can detain suspects for up to 90 days without charge.

Vanier's lawyers were seeking her release as prosecutors demanded she be kept in detention for the entire 90 days.

Vanier has denied the allegations.

Her family had initially expected prosecutors would either charge her or set her free by the time a midnight deadline passed on Monday. But neither happened.

According to her parents, her husband, Pierre Vanier, spent the night outside the high-security jail in Mexico City where she was being held in hopes she might walk free. The high-security facility is a fortress-like building that usually holds drug cartel and terror suspects.

In an email early Tuesday, Cyndy Vanier's mother, Betty MacDonald, told CBC News that according to Vanier's lawyers, "the order of detention expired at midnight and [prosecutors] did not respond. Cyndy is still in the detention centre, therefore she is being held illegally. Cyndy's lawyers were to meet with a judge at 9 a.m. Tuesday to petition for her release immediately. Courts have not met their obligation according to their own laws."

MacDonald also indicated the family plans to call for immediate action from Canadian diplomats.

"The embassy should have more involvement since she is being held illegally," wrote MacDonald.

Travelled to Libya as SNC-Lavalin consultant

Vanier's troubles began last summer when she travelled to Libya on a fact-finding mission funded by Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, which had close business ties to the Gadhafi regime.

In this undated photo made available Sept. 25, 2011, Saadi Gadhafi, son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, watches a military exercise southeast of Tripoli, Libya. (Abdel Magid al-Fergany/Associated Press)

Vanier hired a Canadian-based Gadhafi bodyguard, Gary Peters, to provide her with security during her July visit.

She filed a report to SNC and CANADEM, a government-funded non-profit agency affiliated with Foreign Affairs, which claimed there had been numerous "atrocities" against civilians in the Libyan war resulting from NATO bombing missions and acts by the anti-Gadhafi rebel forces.

SNC-Lavalin continued to rely on Vanier's consulting services after her July mission.

Vanier was arrested Nov. 10. Two Mexican citizens and a Danish man were arrested the following day.

While none of them has been charged, in December Mexico's interior minister alleged that Vanier led the group and had direct contact with Saadi Gadhafi, son of the deceased Libyan dictator.

The official accused Vanier and the others of an international conspiracy to forge documents, buy real estate and smuggle Saadi Gadhafi and his family to an exclusive compound on Mexico's Pacific coast.

By Dec. 21, Mexican authorities had decided to extend Vanier's detention by another 40 days.