Mexican leader asks Israel to hand over fugitive ex-official

Mexico City, Jul 22 (EFE).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador made an appeal Thursday to Israel to hand over a former head of Mexico’s now-defunct criminal investigation agency accused of subverting the investigation of a mass abduction.

“There has not yet been a response and I hope the government of Israel acts with respect for human rights, because the extradition of this public official is being requested for acts of torture, among other things,” the president said at his daily news briefing.

Mexico announced last September that it asked Israel to hand over Tomas Zeron on charges of concealing evidence and torturing witnesses in the probe of the 2014 kidnapping of 43 students at Ayotzinapa teachers college in the southern state of Guerrero.

The two countries have never signed an extradition treaty and The New York Times reported last week that Israel was ignoring the request to punish Mexico for voting in the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the recent Israeli bombardment of Gaza that left more than 250 Palestinians dead.

Lopez Obrador referred Thursday to the story in The Times.

“Supposedly,” the leftist president said, “they don’t want to authorize the extradition … because Mexico voted in favor of peace and non-intervention in Palestine.”

Though the Israeli government criticized Mexico for the June 27 vote in the UN Human Rights Council, Israel’s envoy to the Aztec nation denied the claims made in the report from The New York Times.

“(Mexican Foreign Secretary) Marcelo Ebrard sent a note about this to the government of Israel and the ambassador, I understand, of Israel in Mexico clarified that it was not the official position,” the president said, pointing to a copy of The Times article.

Lopez Obrador, who promised during his 2018 campaign for the presidency to get to the bottom of the Ayotzinapa abduction, acknowledged Thursday that the case remains unfinished business.

“We have advanced, but we have not yet been able to deliver,” he said.

Zeron has been identified as one of the architects of what Lopez Obrador has called the “horrendous lie” propagated by the 2012-2018 government of Enrique Peña Nieto: the students were killed by Guerreros Unidos drug cartel members after being grabbed by municipal cops acting on the orders of a corrupt mayor and their bodies were incinerated at a waste dump.

The official story of the disposal of the bodies was quickly demolished by an international team of forensic experts, while Peña Nieto’s assurance that federal forces played no role in the crime collapsed last November with the release of witness testimony that soldiers helped police and cartel gunmen detain the students. EFE


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