In 2014, 43 students were killed and burned in southern Mexico. The first investigation, led by former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam, was widely criticized.
A Mexican judge on Friday ordered the arrest of the country’s former attorney general and 64 police and military personnel, a day after an official issued a report on the 2014 disappearance of 43 students from a normal school in the southern city of Ayodhya. The commission called the case a “state crime”.
On Friday evening, former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam was arrested at his home in Mexico City for “enforced disappearances, torture and crimes against the administration of justice” and pleaded no contest, prosecutors said in a press release.
Prosecutors later announced that arrest warrants had been issued against 20 military officers and 44 police officers allegedly involved in the case, which has shocked Mexico and abroad.
A controversial first trial
The 64 policemen and soldiers are wanted for “organized crime, enforced disappearance, torture, murder and crimes against the administration of justice”. The identities and rank of those requested were not mentioned.
Jesus Murillo Karam, who served under President Enrique Peña Nieto between 2012 and 2018 and led the controversial initial investigation into these disappearances, is a former heavyweight of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for 71 years without interruption until 2000.
He is the most prominent person arrested so far in connection with these investigations, which began anew after leftist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in 2019. Prosecutors have also issued arrest warrants against 14 members of the Guerreros Unitos drug gang.
In 2014, 43 students were shot and burnt
On the night of September 26-27, 2014, a group of students from the Ayodhya Teacher Training School in the southern state of Guerrero boarded “demand” buses to the nearby city of Iguala to go to a demonstration in Mexico City.
According to the investigation, 43 youths were arrested by local police in association with Guerreros Unitos and then shot and burned in a landfill for unclear reasons. Only the remains of three of them could be identified.
On Thursday, an official report released by the “Ayotzinapa Truth Commission” set up by Andrés Manuel López Obrador estimated that Mexican soldiers had a role in the crime.
“Their actions, omissions or participation allowed the students to disappear and be hanged and six more to be murdered,” Interior Undersecretary Alejandro Encinas said during a public presentation of the report.
Ayodhya case, a “state crime”
“An organizational action was not approved, but there were clear responsibilities of elements of the armed forces,” he added, without specifying whether these “elements” were still active. Alejandro Encinas has repeatedly called the Ayodhya case a “state crime.”
Another commission, the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), created under an agreement between the Pena Nieto government and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), says the soldiers falsified evidence found at the dump where the bodies were located. They burned.
“Prevent this from happening again”
The first official investigation, led by Jesus Murillo Garam, and its results rejected by the victims’ families and independent experts, held the military to no account. This version accused a cartel of drug traffickers of taking and killing students for members of a rival gang.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Friday that “publicizing this cruel and inhumane situation and at the same time punishing those responsible prevents these terrible events from happening again” and “strengthens institutions.”
The Mexican president has also indicated that he will continue to urge Israel to extradite Thomas Ceron, the former head of the Attorney General’s Office of Criminal Investigation. Despite being accused of involvement in the Ayotzinapa affair, the former senior official fled to Israel and sought asylum, claiming his innocence.
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