Crime & Justice

Experts: Mexican military implicated in Ayotzinapa abductions

By Ines Amarelo

Mexico City, Jul 25 (EFE).- Members of Mexico’s armed forces were present at key moments during the abduction of 43 students from Ayotzinapa teachers college in the southern state of Guerrero in 2014, a team of international experts said here Tuesday during the presentation of their final report on the case.

Angela Buitrago and Carlos Beristain of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) told a press conference in Mexico City that they were able to determine the exact location of various actors based on the signals from their cell-phones.

The location data revealed that members of the army lied about their movements on the night of Sept. 26-27, 2014, Buitrago said.

The GIEI also learned that two soldiers were posted to the zone’s C4 security command hub and that one of them redirected the gaze of surveillance cameras so they would not capture images of the kidnapped students’ being transported in pick-up trucks.

Navy personnel became involved later, detaining people who had nothing to do with the abductions and using torture to elicit false confessions, GIEI found.

While the names and ranks of the military members were left out of the public version of the GIEI report, their identities will be provided to the Attorney General’s Office.

The students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School, an all-male teachers’ college known for its leftist activism, were attacked in the nearby city of Iguala after they had commandeered buses (a traditional practice) to travel to Mexico City for a protest.

Six people – including three students – were killed in the assault, 25 were injured and 43 students were abducted and presumably slain later.

The GIEI report says that the abductors initially divided the students into three groups, which were subsequently broken up into smaller contingents and taken to different locations.

While unable to pinpoint those locations with certainty, the GIEI noted communications between army officers regarding groups of 11 and 17 detainees, respectively, as well as indications that the students were being held in a cave on Oct. 4, 2014.

Buitrago and Beristain accused the armed forces of continuing to dissemble and withhold information.

“For there to be justice, there must first be truth,” the GIEI said.

The administration of then-President Enrique Peña Nieto said in 2015 that the students were killed by a local drug gang after being abducted by municipal cops acting on the orders of Iguala’s corrupt mayor, and that their bodies were incinerated at a dump in the nearby town of Cocula.

The victims’ families were immediately skeptical of that account, as was the GIEI, which concluded that the bodies could not have been disposed of in the way authorities claimed.

Army Gen. Jose Rodriguez Perez, who was commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion based in Iguala at the time of the crime, was arrested in September 2022 in connection with the abduction/murders along with two other military members.

EFE ia/dr

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