Crime & Justice

Mexico’s president apologizes to Ayotzinapa families 6 years after abduction

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

Mexico City, Sep 26 (EFE).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador marked Saturday’s sixth anniversary of the abduction of 43 students at Ayotzinapa teachers college by apologizing to their parents on behalf of the government.

“I offer you apologies in the name of the state because we are facing a great injustice committed by the Mexican state,” he told the families during a ceremony at the National Palace.

On Dec. 3, 2018, two days after his inauguration, Lopez Obrador signed a decree for the creation of a truth commission to get to the bottom of the case. Six months later, the federal attorney general’s office established a special, independent unit to conduct the probe.

The mass abduction “was a matter of state” because police and military personnel were involved in the crime, so the state “has to repair the damage and clarify what happened,” the president said Saturday.

“I want to reaffirm the commitment to continue with the goal of clarifying the events, knowing the truth and the we learn the whereabouts of the youths at the same time as punishing those responsible,” he said.

The families expressed gratitude for the president’s efforts.

“It pleases us to see that you are more humane than those who came before you, but we ask you to press a little harder. We would have like to come here today with something more, because it’s already six years and we don’t have anything,” Maria Martinez Zeferino said to Lopez Obrador on behalf of the group.

“Police took them (the 43 students) and military personnel participated,” she said, holding up a poster with a photographing of her missing son.

Authorities announced in July that remains found in a ravine in the southern state of Guerrero had been positively identified as Ayotzinapa student Christian Alfonso Rodriguez Telumbre.

That discovery was the final blow to what the administration of Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, presented as “the historical truth” about the case.

On the night of Sept. 26, 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School, a rural, all-male teacher training 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, 25 were injured and 43 students were abducted and are presumed dead.

Peña Nieto’s administration concluded in early 2015 that the students had been killed by members of the Guerreros Unidos 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 waste dump in the nearby town of Cocula.

Rodriguez Telumbre’s remains were found in Cocula, but far from the dump.

The parents of the missing students rejected the official account from the start and a group of international experts who examined the case pointed to numerous problems with authorities’ version of events.

The current investigation is targeting not only the police, army officers and drug traffickers thought to have perpetrated the crime, but also the Peña Nieto administration officials who tortured suspects and tampered with evidence to construct a false narrative.

Lopez Obrador was accompanied Saturday by the new special prosecutor for the Ayotzinapa case, Omar Gomez Trejo, who said that his office has issued arrest warrants for 70 police, soldiers, former personnel from the Attorney General’s Office and organized crime figures.

Among those being sought, the special prosecutor said, is Tomas Zeron, ex-director of the Mexican equivalent of the FBI, who fled to Israel. EFE er/dr

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