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Foreign Affairs asks Mexico to investigate allegations tourist raped by police

Ottawa is asking the Mexican government to "get to the bottom" of allegations a Canadian tourist was gang-raped and robbed by Mexican police on New Year's Eve.

"We have asked the Mexican ambassador not only to look at [this case]but we've asked him to set an inquiry in place," Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Tuesday.

"We take these allegations very seriously."

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Rebecca Rutland, 41, a social worker doing her thesis in Thunder Bay, told the CBC she was on vacation in the resort town of Playa del Carmen over the holidays when a confrontation broke out between Mexican officers and her fiancé.

Ms. Rutland said she was taken to the police station and raped by two officers while a supervisor looked on.

The couple was robbed of jewellery and hundreds of dollars, she said.

Mexican authorities said in a release Tuesday that Ms. Rutland and Richard Coleman, 51, were intoxicated and "started a fight and attacked each other."

"During the brawl, they hit a car whose driver requested the assistance of the police," the Mexican embassy in Canada said in a release.

The couple was released on the afternoon of the same day, the embassy release said, and upon arriving at their hotel, they requested assistance in filing a complaint at the district attorney's office.

A formal investigation based on Ms. Rutland's complaint "immediately began," the embassy said.

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"An investigation by the authorities of Quintana Roo state is ongoing in order to determine whether a crime was committed and, if it is the case, prosecute and punish whoever is responsible."

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs said the ministry is "very concerned" about the allegations.

"We welcome the government of Mexico's investigation into these allegations, and we expect a thorough and transparent investigation and a timely resolution to this case," Alain Cacchione said in an e-mail.

Liberal consular affairs critic Dan McTeague called the allegations "highly serious and unusual," adding that they "could produce some unintended results for all of us."

"The concern here is to get to the bottom of what transpired and to ensure that the investigation is thorough," Mr. McTeague said.

Mr. McTeague also urged the Mexican government to consider inviting the RCMP into the investigation.

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A treaty between Canada and Mexico states that Canada can co-operate in criminal investigations if invited to do so.

"There is obviously an interest between the two nations given the large number of Canadians who travel there," Mr. McTeague said.

"Mexico is one of our most significant trade partners, so there is a lot to be considered here."

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