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The role of the Mexican military in the disappearance of the student

MEXICO CITY –

The Mexican military’s role in the disappearance of 43 college students, its involvement in the cover-up, and its alleged links to organized crime are now at the heart of A case that shocked the country. The government’s Truth Commission declared the incident a “crime of the state” in August.

Three members of the military and a former federal attorney general were recently arrested in the case, and few now believe the government’s initial claim that a local drug cartel and local officials Allied forces are solely responsible for capturing and killing the students on July 26, 2014, and then burning their bodies – most of which have never been found.

Important details remain unclear despite years of investigation.

But the newspaper Reforma, which obtained parts of a Truth Commission report shared with the Attorney General’s Office, detailed messages between drug gang members and the military. seems to suggest that at least some of the students’ bodies were taken to a local army. basis. Advocates of the student’s family fear the release of sensitive details about the suspect could jeopardize prosecution.

Here are some questions and answers about kidnappings.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The president of the Truth Commission, Alejandro Encinas, said that the official, false version published at the time by Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam “was designed at the highest levels of the federal government” following meetings during the presidency, then in the hands of Enrique Pena Nieto.

According to the statement, Iguala officials thought the students would disrupt a local political event. It said police rounded up 43 students and turned them over to a local drug gang, killing the young men, burning their bodies in a landfill and throwing the remains into the river.

Although all the students appear to have been murdered, it has since been shown that they were taken in groups to different places. Some were apparently kept alive for days.

Students hijacked buses to a rally in Mexico City and were blocked in Iguala – possibly because one of the buses had a drug shipment.

WHO HAS COME RECENTLY?

Three members of the military have been arrested this month, among them Jose Rodriguez Perez, who was in command of the local army base in Iguala as colonel at the time the students went missing. The Truth Commission report alleges he ordered the killing of six students a few days after they were abducted.

Rodriguez Perez was later promoted to general. Now retired, he faces organized crime charges. The fourth member of the military, Captain Jose Martinez Crespo, was arrested in 2020. On Saturday, the Spanish newspaper El Pais published documents showing that the Attorney General’s Office had requested a judge. lifted arrest warrants for 16 other members of the military. The office did not respond to a request for comment.

The most politically significant arrest came last month when former Attorney General Murillo Karam was detained. He has been accused of forcible disappearance, failure to report torture of suspects and official misconduct. He allegedly published a misleading version of events that he called “historical facts.”

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF MILITARY?

From the outset, it was known that the military had real-time knowledge of the events in Iguala that night because soldiers were at key locations, including a police dispatch center. . The Truth Commission report said at least one soldier was infiltrated among the kidnapped students.

In 2015, then Army Chief of Staff General Salvador Cienfuegos assured that the army was not responsible for events of either actions or omissions. However, communications obtained by the Truth Commission contradict that assertion. They claim that military personnel have come into contact with criminals at key moments.

ARE THERE’S MILITARY DOCTORS?

The Truth Commission report said at least one of the missing students was a soldier sent to spy on the university, and a lawyer for parents disputed that there was another. Separately, relatives of Julio Cesar Mondragon, one of the six students killed after surviving the initial attack and later torture, have asked to investigate two other students – now politicians – were the leaders who sent the protest group to Iguala despite the threats the school had received.

WHAT STANDS IN THE JUSTICE PROCESS?

The Ayotzinapa case is a jumble of 28 criminal cases spanning seven states. Eight years later, no one has been convicted.

Santiago Aguirre, a human rights lawyer for relatives of the victims, said about 50 people were being held pending trial. In August, the Attorney General’s Office issued 80 new subpoenas, but Aguirre said most only opened new cases involving people already in custody.

Still being sought is the man who led the initial investigation into the kidnappings, Tomas Zeron, who is in Israel. Mexico is seeking his extradition.

Due to witness torture and other unusual behavior, dozens of defendants have been acquitted on a number of charges. However, many of them are still jailed for other crimes.

WHY ARE THE MEXICAN MILITARY RECORDS CONTINUOUS?

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has increasingly used the military to build major infrastructure projects and replace the police in the fight against crime, arguing that the force is less susceptible to corruption than other agencies.

Allegations of human rights abuses against the military often arose during the “dirty wars” of the 1970s and 80s. They were especially harsh in the poor, poppy-growing state of Guerrero. Some abuses persist – as do allegations of officers being linked to drug cartels.

Over the past 25 years, three generals have faced charges in Mexico, though only one has been convicted.

The Secretary of Defense at the time of the kidnapping, Cienfuegos, was arrested in the US in 2020 and accused of having ties to drug cartels. But under pressure from the Mexican government, the charges against him were later dropped and he was returned to Mexico, which released him.

In the Iguala area where the students were abducted, the military-criminal relationship dates back to at least 2013. According to a court document accessed by the Associated Press, members of the military The army helped a local corporation with weapons and training for it. killer.

The testimony of a jailed suspect said Captain Jose Martinez Crespo, who was arrested in 2020, received money from a leader of the local drug cartel, Guerreros Unidos, to help them move their weapons. “He used his vehicle to be able to move freely through the area,” the witness said.

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