Mexico to relaunch probe of 43 missing students

19 Sep 2019 / 09:50 H.

MEXICO CITY: The Mexican prosecutor-general’s office said Wednesday it will reinvestigate “almost from scratch” the disappearance and suspected massacre of 43 students in 2014, a case that still haunts the country.

The initial probe into the mass kidnapping has been marred by missteps and allegations that investigators tortured suspects, resulting in the release of 77 detainees, including 25 this month.

“We are going to open a new investigation,“ said Omar Gomez, the special prosecutor recently assigned to the case, after meeting with the students’ families.

A lawyer for the families, Vidulfo Rosales, said prosecutor-general Alejandro Gertz told the meeting that the investigation to date “is very bad” and will have to be “reconstructed from the beginning, almost from scratch.”

The meeting was also attended by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office last year with a promise to get to the bottom of the unsolved mystery.

Earlier, Lopez Obrador told a news conference the case is “an open wound” for Mexico, and urged anyone with information to come forward.

“This is about justice, about humanism and also about Mexico’s reputation,“ he said.

The 43 young men from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in the southern state of Guerrero were detained by police the night of September 26, 2014, and allegedly handed over to gang members who massacred them.

According to the prosecution’s case, officers who were on the payroll of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel mistook the students for members of a rival group.

They allegedly handed them over to cartel hitmen, who slaughtered them and burned their bodies at a garbage dump.

However, independent investigators from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found that version of events was impossible, based on forensic analysis of the supposed crime scene.

The government of former president Enrique Pena Nieto decided not to renew the experts’ mandate, and they never concluded their investigation.

However, they hypothesised that the students may have inadvertently taken a bus loaded with heroin bound for the United States.

Of the five buses the students took that night, it was the only one stopped by federal police, rather than shot up by municipal police, the experts concluded. All mention of the bus later disappeared mysteriously from the official case file. — AFP

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