Crime & Justice

Mexican truth commission: Students’ disappearance a “state crime”

Mexico City, Aug 18 (EFE).- The 2014 abduction of 43 students from Ayotzinapa teacher’s college in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero was a “state crime” involving local, state and federal officials, the truth commission named to investigate the episode says in a report released Thursday.

Mexico’s deputy secretary for human rights, Alejandro Encinas, presented the panel’s preliminary findings at a press conference in Mexico City.

The commission, appointed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, also concluded “that federal and state authorities at the highest levels were careless and negligent” in the original probe of the crime.

Those officials tampered with evidence and misrepresented witness statements to reach a conclusion “remote from the truth,” the commission said.

“Their actions, omissions and participation permitted the abduction and execution of the students, as well as the murder of six other people,” Encinas said, referring to local law enforcement and Mexican military personnel mentioned in the report.

On the night of Sept. 26, 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School, an all-male college known for its leftist activism, were attacked in Iguala, Guerrero, after they had commandeered buses 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.

“There are no indications” that any of the students are alive, Encinas said.

In early 2015, the administration of then-President Enrique Peña Nieto said 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 students’ families were immediately skeptical of that account, as was the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts, a team assembled by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights who concluded in their first report, published in September 2015, that the bodies could not have been disposed of in the way authorities claimed.

Lopez Obrador, who likewise rejected the account presented by his predecessor’s government, launched a new probe shortly after taking office in December 2018.

Mexico has been working to secure the extradition from Israel of Tomas Zeron, a former head of the now-defunct AIC investigative agency who is accused of torturing suspects and tampering with evidence to craft the version of events proclaimed in 2015 as the “historical truth.”

But the Ayotzinapa families have urged the government to seek the return of Peña Nieto, who left office with a disapproval rating of 77 percent and recently obtained legal resident status in Spain.

EFE ppc/dr

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