Official: 6 out of 43 missing Mexican students handed over to the military

MEXICO CITY — Six of the 43 college students who “disappeared” in 2014 were said to be kept alive in a warehouse for days then handed over to the local army commander who ordered their killing, government official Mexico leads a Truth Commission said Friday.

The surprise comment by Deputy Interior Minister Alejandro Encinas was the first time an official had directly forced the military into one of Mexico’s worst human rights scandals, and it came with a bit of fanfare when he defended it. verbose commission report published a week earlier.

Last week, despite declaring the disappearances and disappearances a “crime of the state” and saying the military tracked it down without interfering, Encinas made no mention of the six students being assigned to the University. Colonel José Rodríguez Perez.

On Friday, Encinas said authorities were closely monitoring students from the radical teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa from the moment they left the campus until they were abducted by local police in the town of Iguala. on that night. A soldier who has infiltrated the school is among the kidnapped students, and Encinas insists that the military is not following its own protocols and attempts to rescue him.

There is also information corroborated by emergency phone calls on 089 where it is believed six of the 43 missing students have been detained for several days and are still living in what they call a warehouse. old and has since been transferred to the colonel. “Supposedly six students were alive for 4 days after the events and killed and disappeared on the orders of the colonel, believed to be at the time Colonel José Rodríguez Pérez.”

The defense department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday’s allegations.

The military’s role in the disappearance of students has long been a source of tension between the family and the government. From the outset, there were questions about the military’s knowledge of what happened and its likely involvement. Parents have demanded for years that they be allowed to search the military base in Iguala. It was not until 2019 that they were granted access along with Encinas and the Truth Commission.

The commission’s report said the military registered an anonymous emergency call on September 30, 2014, four days after the student abduction. The caller said the students were being held in a large concrete warehouse in a location described as “Pueblo Viejo”. The caller proceeds to describe the location.

Followed by that entry were several pages of redacted documents, but that part of the report concluded as follows: “As can be seen, clear collusion existed between agents of the Mexican state with the criminal group Guerreros Unidos that tolerated, allowed and participated in the violent events and the disappearance of students, as well as the government’s efforts to conceal the truth about these events”.

Then, in a summary of how the committee report differs from the original investigation’s conclusions, a colonel is mentioned.

“On September 30, the ‘colonel’ said they would take care of everything and they were in charge of the six surviving students,” the report said.

In a witness statement provided to federal investigators in December 2014, Captain José Martínez Crespo, who was stationed at the base in Iguala, said the base commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion at the time. that point is Colonel José Rodriguez Pérez.

On September 26, 2014, the local police took the students off the bus they had commanded in Iguala. The motive for the police action remains unclear eight years later. Their bodies were never found, although burned bone fragments were matched to three of the students.

Last week, federal agents arrested former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam, who oversaw the initial investigation. On Wednesday, a judge ordered that he stand trial for forced disappearance, failure to report torture and official misconduct. Prosecutors accused Murillo Karam of creating a false story about what happened to the students in order to quickly appear to resolve the case.

Authorities last week also said arrest warrants had been issued for 20 soldiers and officers, five local officials, 33 local and 11 state police, as well as 14 gang members. Neither the military nor prosecutors have said how many of those suspects are in custody.

It is also unclear if Rodríguez Pérez is among those searched.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has entrusted Mexico with enormous military responsibility. The armed forces are not only central to his security strategy, but they also take control of the seaports and are tasked with building a new airport for the capital and a cruise ship on the peninsula. Yucatan Island.

The president often said that the army and navy were the least corrupt institutions and he believed it.

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