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Mexican officials make first high-profile arrest in infamous 2014 disappearance of 43 students

Mexican officials on Friday made the first high-profile arrest in the infamous 2014 disappearances of 43 students, accusing a former top prosecutor of committing crimes in one of a series of human rights abuses. worst in Mexico, considered a state crime.

Former Attorney General Jesus Murillo was arrested at his home in Mexico City.

He was arrested on charges of forced disappearance, torture, and obstruction of justice in the kidnapping and disappearance of student-teacher students in the southwestern state of Guerrero.

Murillo was taken to the attorney general’s office and will be transferred to a prison in Mexico City, authorities said.

Within hours of the arrest, a judge announced 83 more arrest warrants – for soldiers, police, Guerrero officials and gang members – related to the case, the attorney general’s office said. said.

The mother of one of the 43 missing students protesting in Mexico City in 2017. The sign reads: ‘The only reason for me to sleep is to dream of my son’s return.’ (Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)

During Murillo’s 2012-2015 term under President Enrique Pena Nieto, he oversaw the highly criticized investigation into the September 26, 2014 disappearance of students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College. .

Errors and abuses

The remains of three students were only found and identified, and questions have haunted Mexico ever since.

International experts have criticized the official investigation as fraught with flaws and abuses, including the torture of witnesses. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in 2018 vowing to shed light on what happened.

Since 2020, Lopez Obrador’s administration has attempted to arrest another former top official, Tomas Zeron, including asking Israel to extradite him last year.

Asked about the government’s move to scrutinize the investigation in the past, Murillo said he was pleased and ready to be questioned, local media reported in 2020.

Murillo was arrested wearing black shorts, his arms folded in his gray jacket pocket, as a law enforcement officer with a rifle strapped to his chest stood behind, an image carried by local media.

The attorney general’s office said Murillo cooperated “without resistance.”

Relatives of 43 missing students raise their fists after a photo of missing family members at a news conference in Mexico City in September 2016. (Marco Ugarte / Associated Press)

The arrest comes a day after Mexico’s top human rights official, Alejandro Encinas, called the disappearance a “state crime” involving local, state and federal officials.

Encinas told a press conference: “What happened?

Encinas said that the highest levels of Pena Nieto’s government orchestrated a cover-up, which included altering crime scenes and concealing links between authorities and criminals.

Murillo took over the Ayotzinapa case in 2014 and called the government’s findings “historical facts”.

According to that version, a local drug gang mistook the students for members of a rival group, killed them, burned their bodies in a landfill, and threw the rest into the river.

An image of 43 missing rural college students is illuminated during a candlelit vigil in front of the Mexican Attorney General’s office, in Mexico City in 2015. (Marco Ugarte / Associated Press)

A panel of international experts found the hole in the account, and the United Nations denounced arbitrary detention and torture in its investigation.

“Historical truth” eventually became synonymous with perceptions of corruption and retribution under Pena Nieto as anger grew over the lack of answers.

Murillo, who was previously a federal lawmaker and governor of Hidalgo state, resigned in 2015 when criticized for his handling of the case.

The lawyer for the Ayotzinapa student’s parents, Vidulfo Rosales, called on the government to make further arrests.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done before we can think this case has been resolved,” Rosales told Mexican television.

Students hold posters with pictures of some of the 43 missing students in Mexico City in 2018. (Henry Romero / Reuters)

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