Normalista students show the photographs of the 43 disappeared from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School when accompanying their relatives in a march on the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of the 43 students, in Mexico City, on Saturday, September 26, 2020. ( AP Photo / Rebecca Blackwell) (Rebecca Blackwell)
Mexico City – The Mexican prosecutor's office has issued 25 arrest warrants against alleged material and intellectual authors of the disappearance in 2014 of the 43 students in the south of the country, fugitives among whom for the first time there are federal and military police. In addition, he reported on Saturday the arrest of the first federal police officer who was linked to the process that same day.
“Those responsible for the enforced disappearance of the 43 students are fully identified and they are being prosecuted in full legality” against the “manipulation” and “generalized cover-up” of crimes and criminals carried out by the previous administration, said the attorney general, Alejandro Gertz Manero, in a video message transmitted during a ceremony on the 6th anniversary of a crime that shocked both inside and outside the country.
“Military arrest warrants have been issued and they are going to be carried out,” said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who presided over the event at the National Palace. “Whoever has participated and is shown, will be judged. That is progress, the fact that there is no cover-up ”.
The lack of certainty about the whereabouts of the students keeps families in despair, but detaining and ordering the arrest of some fully identified military personnel carries a great symbolic load given the support and unconditional defense that the president has made of the armed forces. .
“We are pleased to see that it is more human than the previous (presidents),” said María Martínez, the mother of one of the students, who spoke on behalf of the families. But Martínez recalled that the relatives are still “mad with pain” due to the uncertainty, and asked the president “to press a little more (…) six years and we have nothing.”
Omar Gómez Trejo, current head of the investigation of the so -called Ayotzinapa Case – the name of the teaching school where the young people studied – said that among the 25 people wanted as material or intellectual authors there are “police from various municipalities, federal police, members of the army, as well as officials and former officials of the defunct Attorney General's Office (PGR) and organized crime ”.
He did not clarify whether among them is the then head of the PGR, Jesús Murillo Karam, whom the current attorney general accused of “orchestrating a massive media deception.”
On September 26, 2014, local police from the city of Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero, captured the students in that town, with the participation of other security corporations and criminals.
The previous government claimed that the youths were turned over to organized crime, which murdered them, incinerated the 43 bodies in a garbage dump in a neighboring municipality, Cocula, and dumped the remains into a nearby river. However, this version, which Murillo Karam considered “the historical truth”, has already been totally discarded, among other things because the alleged prosecution test, the fragment of a bone of one of the students found in the river was “a montage”, Gómez Trejo sentenced, and because the rest of the other student identified in July was found in a place other than the garbage dump.
In addition, according to the Undersecretary for Human Rights, Alejandro Encinas, it is proven that “at no time were the 43 students together.”
For Gertz Manero, there is much evidence of the cover-up made by the previous government: cameras that stopped working, radios that went off, local judicial authorities that hid videos, arbitrary detentions and massive torture.
The highest-ranking former official on the run, considered one of those most responsible for such a cover-up, is Tomás Zerón, then head of the federal investigative agency, who is wanted for torture and concealment of forced disappearance.
But the attorney general affirmed that, in addition, “he collected and stole more than one billion pesos from the budget of the then PGR”, some 50 million dollars, “which he fraudulently stolen with various accomplices, within the Institution, and with the consent of his superiors, as payment for his infamies ”.
At the end of 2016, former President Enrique Peña Nieto withdrew Zerón from the investigative agency, but to give him a promotion.
According to Gertz Manero, Zerón fled the country in 2019 when they discovered “that enormous embezzlement” bound for Canada, but when extradition efforts were made to that country “he fled to Israel; a country that has already been asked for its support ”.
The new investigations, based on the analysis of 80 million telephone communications, videos, documents, skeletal remains and statements by officials, informants and protected witnesses show that the young people were left “in the middle of a clash of interests of the drug trafficking forces.” settled in Iguala, the nerve center for the distribution of heroin or opium gum produced in the Sierra de Guerrero.
The attorney general explained that that night there were not only six dead and 43 missing, but that “about 80 people were massacred and hidden in Iguala, by different criminal groups and their official accomplices.”
In fact, since the search began for the 43, 245 bodies have been recovered, of which 22 have been identified, said Undersecretary Encinas.
The arrival of López Obrador to power gave a turn to the investigation whose legal process was discredited by the Mexican justice itself in 2018, when a court ordered the entire process to be restored.
With the new government, a Truth Commission was created, some thirty new searches were carried out – as in which the rest of the second identified student was found – and key processes were initiated against two officials: the head of the federal ministerial police for torture and a detective for falsifying documents and hiding information in a case of enforced disappearance.
But one of the great advances pointed out on Saturday by all the authorities and also by Francisco Cox, a member of the group of international experts who intervened remotely, is that the fence of impunity that blocked witnesses and people involved from speaking has begun to break. .
“The investigation is in the most complex stage, we are at the moment of the judicialization of the investigations and the breaking of the pact of silence to clarify a State crime six years away,” Encinas said.
But the president was convinced to make known “the real truth” and the whereabouts of young people. “In short, let there be justice,” he said.