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Authorities dig dumpster five years after 43 students disappeared

Pressure has been growing on López Obrador to uncover the truth about the Ayotzinapa case

Authorities dig dumpster five years after 43 students disappeared
López Obrador said that military officials should be questioned - Photo: Carlos Jasso/REUTERS
English 26/09/2019 14:05 Reuters Mexico City Lizbeth Díaz Actualizada 14:29
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Mexican officials have begun searching new sites to find the remains of 43 missing students including a garbage dumpster near where they disappeared five years ago, after re-opening the Ayotzinapa case, a case that plunged the last government into a crisis.

The alleged abduction and apparent massacre of the students by corrupt police working with a violent drug cartel drew international outrage and led to widespread condemnation of the administration of Mexico’s previous president, Enrique Peñaa Nieto.

Pressure has been growing on President López Obrador, Peña Nieto’s successor, to fulfill his promises to uncover the truth of what really happened to the 43 students.

A source close to the investigation said one place being searched is a garbage dumpster in Tepecoacuilco, a few miles from the city of Iguala, in the state of Guerrero, where the students were abducted on September 26, 2014.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office confirmed new investigations were underway in Guerrero but said she could not say exactly where they were taking place.

On Thursday, government officials said that people linked to the disappearances who had been freed from prison could be sent back.

At his daily news conference, López Obrador and members of his administration shed their usual suits for T-shirts emblazoned with the number 43 to commemorate the students.

“We are convinced that in the Ayotzinapa case, the only truth until now is that there is no truth,” said Alejandro Encinas, undersecretary for human rights.

Officials added they had conducted nine searches since June to find traces of the students and would call Jesús Murillo Karam, the Attorney General who oversaw the Peña Nieto-era probe into the disappearances, to testify next week.

New probe

López Obrador took office in December, pledging to re-open the case. His government has called the original probe into the crime “discredited” and vowed to go after the officials who led it.

Angela Buitrago, a consultant appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights who is helping to oversee the new probe, said it was vital to investigate military officials who were present in Iguala five years ago.

In December, López Obrador said that military officials should also be put under the spotlight, but it is not clear what questions if any, they have faced so far.

According to the Peña Nieto administration’s account, local drug cartel Guerreros Unidos mistook the students for members of a rival cartel, killed them, incinerated their bodies in a nearby garbage dump, and tipped their remains into a river.

However, the remains of only one of the 43 students were ever definitively identified, and a group of independent experts later picked several holes in the official version of events.

The U.N. human rights office said in a report last year that it appeared Mexican authorities had tortured dozens of people during the investigation. Out of 142 suspects detained in the case, more than half have been released.
 

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