Crime & Justice

Mexico looking to turn Ayotzinapa suspects into state witnesses

Mexico City, Jan 21 (EFE).- Mexican authorities are offering protection and reduced sentences to some of the perpetrators in the interest of learning the truth about the 2014 abduction of 43 students at Ayotzinapa teachers college in the southern state of Guerrero, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Thursday.

“Guarantees are being given to the detainees and I take the opportunity to let them know: all of those who help by informing will get consideration, in the framework of legality, and they will be protected,” the leftist president told a press conference.

“What we are seeking is to shatter the so-called pact of silence,” Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, said, adding that despite progress in the investigation, a “definitive result” remains elusive.

“Imagine, 43 missing young people, 80 detainees and still not to have the knowledge of what happened,” he said.

AMLO said that the current probe has at least dismantled 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 abducted by municipal cops acting on the orders of the corrupt mayor of Iguala, Guerrero, and their bodies were incinerated at a waste dump.

Peña Nieto also insisted that federal security forces were not involved in the crime.

The official account of the disposal of the bodies was quickly demolished by an international team of forensic experts, while the assertion that federal forces played no role in the crime collapsed in November with the arrest of army Capt. Jose Martinez Crespo, who was assigned to the 27th Infantry Battalion in Iguala at the time of the mass kidnapping.

On Wednesday, Reforma newspaper published the leaked testimony of “Juan,” a protected witness and suspected leader of the Guerreros Unidos cartel who participated in the disappearance of the 43 trainee teachers on Sept. 26, 2014.

The witness said soldiers took part in a joint operation with police and Guerreros Unidos gunmen to detain the students and 30 other people at the 27th Infantry Battalion and later handed them over to cartel members.

“A witness says that, but we can’t say that this happened until everything is proven,” AMLO said Thursday regarding the testimony from Juan. “The aim is not to create another false version to close the case.”

The Ayotzinapa Truth Commission and the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center condemned the leak to Reforma and said that it would damage the investigation.

Thursday’s edition of Reforma featured more information purporting to come from Juan’s testimony, including an accusation that the current police commissioner in Mexico City, Omar Garcia Harfuch, was on the payroll of Guerreros Unidos while serving as Federal Police coordinator in Guerrero in 2014.

“I categorically deny the painful statements made against me by a criminal, today a ‘protected witness,’ published by Reforma,” Garcia Harfuch said Thursday. “My career in the fight against organized crime on various fronts speaks for itself.” EFE


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