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Investigators May Have Found Remains Of The 43 Mexican Students Who Have Been Missing For 5 Years

In 2014, 43 students from a teacher’s college in Ayotzinapa went missing. Now, investigators have found human remains that may clue them in on what exactly happened to the missing college students. 

The Mexican government had initially concluded that local corrupt police officers were in the pocket of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel mistakenly believed the students were a part of a rival gang. The officers were said to have turned the students over to the cartel who killed them and dumped them in a landfill. 

The students’ parents did not accept this version of events and led various protests to demand answers from the state. They were vindicated when an independent investigation using forensic analysis discovered the government’s findings were impossible. When President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador took office in 2018 he vowed to solve this mystery. 

Investigators found human remains that may uncover what really happened.

A lawyer for some of the victims’ parents, Vidulfo Rosales told Mexico News Daily, that remains discovered by the National Search Commission surrounding Iguala, where the students went missing, will be analyzed by the government and foreign third parties. 

“The new hypothesis is that there was a situation in municipalities that neighbor Iguala that was not known before,” Rosales said. 

While the government’s initial theory was that the students were burned in a Cocula garbage dump, the new theory suggests that the students may have been separated and spread across municipalities. The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts believes that the 43 young men unwittingly took a cartel bus filled with heroin that was supposed to go to the United States. 

There were five buses transporting students from the college to a protest, but the bus with the missing 43 was the only one stopped by federal police.

The previous administration may have been covering up what really happened.

Following the incident, all traces of the official case file disappeared. Later on, an independent investigation found that authorities had used torture tactics to coerce confessions from suspects. 

The case hasn’t been able to make any progress because the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts’ efforts were thwarted by the previous government that refused to renew their mandate in 2016. AMLO promised to open an investigation after taking office, but 2019 saw little progress. 

Last September, 21 municipal police officers that were arrested in connection with the missing students were released from prison. 

“The judge ordered the officers’ release on the grounds that statements they made to prosecutors in the previous government were obtained by illegal means, including torture,” according to Mexico News Daily

However, human rights undersecretary Alejandro Encinas believed the move was a miscarriage of justice. Encinas believes the judge failed to follow a legal precedent which decrees that when evidence was obtained through torture a new investigation must occur rather than the automatic acquittal of the defendant. Encinas also noted that the judge set free those who were tortured but made no effort to hold those who did the alleged torturing accountable. The same judge had previously released a suspect in the case two weeks before. 

“The judge interpreted the law with a lot of laxity . . . He didn’t impart justice and caused serious damage to the search for truth,” Encinas said.

In total, 77 out of 142 suspects have been released after judges found the convicting evidence was obtained unlawfully. 

2020 might bring answers about the missing 43.

“We still don’t know what happened. We are overwhelmed, stuck,” Antonio Tizapa, father of one of the missing student’s named Jorge. “And after five years of demanding justice, five years fighting to keep the case open, it’s unreal that we still can’t find them.” 

With possible remains uncovered, the families of the victims said they would give AMLO two months (starting in November) to make progress in the case. The remains will be analyzed in Mexico, the Institute of Legal Medicine at the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria, and experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

In the past 12 years, 47,000 people have disappeared in Mexico, according to NBC News

“Politics affects us on both sides of the border,” he said. “But what happened to my son is happening to many other children in Mexico and the United States.”

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