83 Arrest Warrants Issued in Relation to the 2014 Disappearance of 43 Mexican Students
Eight years after 43 Mexican students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College were kidnapped in Iguala while traveling to Mexico City, federal prosecutors have issued 83 arrest warrants relating to the case, including one for ex-Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam, who is being charged with torture and forced disappearance.
All in all, prosecutors issued warrants to 33 local police officers, 20 soldiers and officers, 11 state police officers, five local officials and 14 gang members. Despite the issuing of these warrants, investigators are still unclear as to the motives behind this mass kidnapping, followed by torture and murder, according to newly uncovered information, reports USA Today.
The students, coming from a teachers’ school that has been characterized as “radical,” were on their way to Mexico City to commemorate the 46th anniversary of the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, where the Mexican military opened fire on a crowd protesting the 1968 Summer Olympics. It’s estimated that hundreds of people were killed during the massacre.
CNN reports that 100 students from the teachers’ college were en route to the commemoration when 43 of them were kidnapped after armed officers and soldiers stopped the buses and began opening fire on the students. Buses full of bullet holes were later discovered in the streets of Iguala.
As of right now, investigators have determined that corrupt police, military forces and drug gang members collaborated in the mass kidnapping, which took place near an army base where soldiers were reportedly aware of what was happening. It was even discovered that one of the students was actually a soldier who had ingratiated himself with the group. The army was aware of this and did not take any measures to retrieve him.
Murillo Karam became publicly involved in the kidnappings when locals demanded he deal with it swiftly and get to the bottom of what happened. Murillo Karam, who served as attorney general from 2012 to 2015, said in 2014 that the students were most likely kidnapped by a drug gang, murdered and incinerated at a nearby garbage dump after being mistakenly identified as a rival gang.
He went so far as to label this theory “the historic truth” before resigning in 2015 in the face of mounting pressure to uncover the truth behind the students’ disappearances, according to the Independent.
However, recently uncovered evidence suggests that the students were tortured after being improperly arrested by local officials. Additionally, investigators found that evidence pertaining to the case was mishandled, perhaps intentionally. Current Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero has accused Murillo Karam of “orchestrating a massive media trick” and participating in a “generalized cover-up” of the facts.
The former attorney general’s arrest coincides with the commission’s determination that the kidnappings were, in fact, “a crime of the state” involving “the Guerreros Unidos criminal group and agents from various institutions of the Mexican state,” says Mexico’s Undersecretary for Human Rights, Population and Migration Alejandro Encinas.
During a recent press conference, Encinas also said that the previous administration “concealed the truth of the facts, altered crime scenes, covered up the links between authorities with a criminal group.” He added, in response to protests demanding that the students be brought back alive, “There is no indication the students are alive. All the testimonies and evidence prove that they were cunningly killed and disappeared.”
Current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said last Friday that he has committed himself to the investigation and has promised the public that he will do everything in his power to uncover the truth, per Reuters. Currently, only three of the 43 bodies have been identified through fragments of burnt bone.
The current administration is also working to organize extradition for former official Tomás Zeron, who led the 2014 investigation in the disappearance of the students. Zeron fled to Israel following the investigation and recent charges of torture and obstruction of justice. Zeron is also accused of stealing $44 million from the office budget of the attorney general. The Mexican government is asking the Israeli government to extradite Zeron back to Mexico where he can stand trial for his crimes.
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