Mexican authorities on Thursday classified the 2014 disappearance of 43 students as a covert state crime by the government, in another damning assessment of the previous administration’s actions regarding one of Mexico’s worst human rights atrocities.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised to reveal what happened to the students, who disappeared in the southwestern city of Iguala in September 2014 after dismissing the previous government’s version of events.
The case sparked international outrage over disappearances and impunity in Mexico, and caused lasting damage to the government of then-President Enrique Pena Nieto, not least because human rights experts criticized the official inquiry as rife with errors and abuses.
Mexico’s top human rights official, Alejandro Encinas, told a news conference that the government’s involvement in the disappearance – including local, state and federal authorities – constituted a “crime of state”.
Subsequently, the administration “hidden the truth of the facts, altered crime scenes, covered up the authorities’ links with a criminal group”.
One of the students was a military informant, but authorities did not follow protocol for finding missing soldiers, Encinas noted. Had they done so, “the disappearance and murder of the students would have been avoided,” he said.
Despite extensive searches, the remains of only three students were discovered and identified, Encinas said.
The students’ families have long expressed hope that their loved ones survived, putting pressure on the government in protests in which they chanted, “We want them to come back alive.”
Encinas made a rare official acknowledgment that the students did not survive. “There is no indication that the students are alive. All testimonies and evidence prove that they were murdered and disappeared,” he said. “It’s a sad reality.”
According to the version of events announced by the Pena Nieto government in 2015, a local drug gang mistook the students for members of a rival group, killed them and incinerated their bodies in a dump.
Under López Obrador, authorities issued dozens of arrest warrants, including for military and police officers, and asked Israel to extradite a former official accused of manipulating the investigation.
Source: CNN Brasil